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Ed. 36 4 
~ 3 ^ 5 ® 

Studies in Education and Psychology 




Ministry of Education 
Government of India 


to bo returned oo or before the last date stamped below 



Foreword by Prof. Humayun Kabir ...... (i) 

• Foreword to the Second Edition by K. G. Saiyidain .... (iii) 

Chapter — 

I Historical Background . . ... . . 1 

II A Comparative Study . . . . . . . . 17 

III Administrative Problems ....... 28 

IV Pedagogic Problems ........ 40 

V General Estimate and Conclusion , . . . . . 51 

Appendices ...... .... 54 

Bibliography ... ... .... 60 


Interest in problems of Indian education has been 
continually on the increase since the attainment of inde- 
pendence. Workers within the country are anxious to 
know what steps are being taken to eradicate some of 
the known defects of the systems that prevailed in the 
past. Governments, private organisations and educar 
tionists in foreign countries want to know what steps 
India is taking to equip her citizens for participation in 
democratic Government. Enlightened opinion, both at 
home and abroad, recognises that the solution to our 
problems of poverty, ill health and low standards of 
life may well lie in the development of an adequate 
system of education for the country. The evolution of 
such a system will have to be based on a survey of our 
educational attainments till now and comparison with 
educational practices in other countries of the world. 

As a small contribution towards this work of national 
importance, the Ministry of Education has for some 
time had under contemplation a scheme for the publi- 
cation of a series of brochures dealing with different 
aspects of education in the country. It is proposed to 
draw for the purpose on the knowledge and experience 
of educationists and teachers of standing and invite them 
to survey prevailing educational practice and examine 
basic educational concepts. These brochures are meant 
to be first-hand and concise accounts of observations, 
experiences and experiments in specific fields and not 
mere summaries of material published elsewhere. Based 
on the knowledge and experience of the writers, they 
will supply to educational workers in the country as 
well as abroad significant information about our educa- 
tional developments and plans. 

The present pamphlet on The Single-Teacher School is 
the first publication in this series. The author has given 
a brief historical account of such schools and attempted 


to assess their utility in present day India. He has point- 
ed out that such schools have existed here since the 
earliest days and in view of the distribution of the popu- 
lation in a large number of villages, are likely to remain 
a permanent feature of our educational landscape. The 
recognition that they are, perhaps, indispensable in the 
Indian context demands that we study them with a view 
to improve their status and performance. The author 
has drawn upon the experience of countries like the 
United States of America, Sweden and Australia to 
suggest lines of administrative and pedagogic reform. 
He has also stressed the importance of organising ex- 
perimental single-teacher schools under competent 
supervision in order to evolve better teaching techniques 
and administrative procedures. 

The provision of universal free basic education is a 
declared objective of the Indian Constitution. The 
author holds that since a majority of our villages can 
afford only single-teacher schools, this obligation can 
be best met by developing them on scientific lines. A 
careful examination of their potentialities must, there- 
fore, be a high priority in our programme of educa- 
tional reconstruction. It is hoped that the present 
pamphlet will prove a useful contribution towards such 



In the Foreword to the first edition of this brochure, 
hope was expressed that it may prove to be a useful 
contribution to the study of the problems which arise in 
Single-Teacher Schools. The reception accorded to that 
edition shows that it has met a felt need and many teach- 
ers and educational administrators have made use of 
it in their work. Obviously, it is not enough to have good 
ideas and suggestions for dealing with problems — it is 
almost as important to have the necessary resources for 
implementing them. Almost as important but not quite, 
because ideas — provided they are sincerely and compe- 
tently grasped — have a knack of developing their own 
dynamism and at last creating some of the resources. 
Many of the suggestions given by Mr. Naik in this 
valuable booklet are what may be described as non- 
financial— that is, they can be put into effect without 
involving appreciable additional expenditure. But 
there are none — and there can be none — which can be 
put into effect without good and sincere teachers who 
are prepared to try out ideas and suggestions intelligent- 
ly and experimentally. I hope — though I do not know 
for certain — that there are many teachers who are doing 
so and, if so, the Ministry of Education will be happy 
to receive from them accounts of their experiments and 
experiences and to make them available to other workers 
in the field, if they are found to be of general value and 




Single-teacher schools are one of India’s oldest traditions in 
education. In the Vedic Period, for instance, education was 
mostly a family affair and ordinarily, each father used to ini- 
tiate his son into the Vedic lore and the profession of his caste. 1 
This system of education in the family or of domestic instruction as 
it came to be styled in educational literature, continued to sur- 
vive right down to the middle of the nineteenth century. Adam 
found it very common in Bengal and his investigations revealed 
that there were 1747 Centres of Domestic Instruction as against 373 

“schools” proper in the intensively studied areas of Bengal and 

Bihar. 2 Munro found that the system was very common in Madras 
City and that for every pupil reading in a school proper, there 
were five under domestic instruction. 3 The Collector of Kanara 
reported that so many children in that district were taught at home 
that any report about the number of schools proper or of pupils 
attending them would not only be of little or no use, but on the 
contrary, fallacious. 4 Although such references to the system are 

rather scanty in official literature, there is reason to believe that 
it prevailed extensively in all parts of India; and it must be 
noted that all “Centres of Domestic Instruction” were single-teacher 

Later on when society began to be organised on the basis of 
the division of labour, the system of domestic instruction receded 
into the background and “schools” proper conducted by pro- 

fessional teachers began to come into existence. But the tradi- 
tion of single teachers was so deeply rooted that instead of com- 
bining with others to found “Colleges” or “Universities”, the 
average Indian teacher chose to ply his profession entirely on 
his own. At Takshashila, the most important seat of learning in 
ancient India, hundreds of students from all parts of northern 
India flocked together for higher education; but neither a 
College nor a University came into existence. “Every teacher, 
assisted by his advanced students, formed an institution bv him- 
self.” 5 Even at Banaras which has been a centre of education for 
over two thousand years and where hundreds of students gathered 

1 S. Z. Audichya : Village Administration in Ancient India, p. 15 — date of 

2 Nurullah and Naik : History of education in India during the British 
period, p. 31. 

*Ibid % p. 4. 

*Ibid, p. 6. 

5 A. S. Altekar : Education in Ancient India, p. 251. 



from all parts of India, each teacher, generally worked on his 
own. As late as the 17th century, Bernier thus describes the 
single-teacher institutions of this city : “Banaras is a kind of 

University, but it has no college or regular classes as in our Uni- 
versities. It resembles rather the schools of the ancients, the mas- 
ters being spread over the different parts of the town in private 

houses Some teachers have four and some six disciples; 

the most eminent mav have 12 or 15 but this is the largest num- 

causes may be, instructions on the single-teacher basis had both 
good and bad results. On the one hand, it led to a lamentable 
failure to institutionalise education and to establish colleges and 
universities in spite of a very careful and large-scale attempt to 
preserve ancient culture. On the other hand, it developed three 
areet educational values ; close intimacy between the teacher 
and the student ; greater individual attention, which was mainly 
due to the small number of students; and the monitorial method 
of teaching. 

The same tradition is also found surviving in the system of 
indigenous education which prevailed so widely in all parts of 
India prior to the advent of British rule. Adam found that al- 
most all the indigenous schools were single-teacher institutions 
and in his writings, one frequently comes across his favourite 
phrase, “the number of teachers is the same as the number of 
schools”. 7 The enquiries in Bombay and Madras also show the 
same almost exclusive predominance of single-teacher schools. 8 
It may. therefore, be concluded that the average indigenous 
school in all parts of India was a single-teacher institution. 

The foregoing evidence shows that ever since the earliest 
Vedic times, single-teacher schools have existed in India and, ex- 
cept for the microscopic minority of a few multi-teacher institu- 
tions, they have always monopolised the whole field of education. 

Peculiar social conditions have been mainly responsible for 
the existence of this type of school. The number of children to 
be educated in a place was generally so small that a single-teacher 
institution was all that could come into existence. In bigger 
places, it was, of course, possible to put together a large number 
of children desiring to study : but family loyalties came in the 
way. Families usually had a hereditary association with certain 
families of teachers and they just chose a teacher on the same 
traditional basis that led to the choice of a priest. Consequently, 
what actually grew up in the locality was not a big multi-teacher 
school but a number of single-teacher institutions. The predo- 
minance of single -teacher schools was partly due to an old edu- 
cational theory that the relations between the teacher and the 
student should be most intimate 9 (a single-teacher school defi- 
nitely secured this end and secured it better than a big multi- 
teacher school), and partly to an individualism which stands in 
the way of working out cooperative projects. But whatever the 

* Bernier : Travels in India, p. 341 . 

7 William Adam : Reports on the State of Education in Bengal and 
; 1835-38). 

8R. V. Parulekar : Survey of Indigenous Education in the State of Bomfc > 
(1820-30) and A. J. Arbuthnot : Selections from the records of the Govern- 
ment of Madras, No. 1 1 . 

9 A. S. Altekar : op. cit. pp. 63-Si . 

All these ancient educational values survived till the modern 
period and were characteristic of all indigenous educational ins- 
titutions at the advent of British rule. The relations between the 
teacher and pupils were always homely and intimate, in spite of 
the severe punishments adopted in elementary schools. 11 More- 
over, the size of the school was' always small. In Bombay, the ave- 
rage number of pupils per school was 35 in Gujerat, 20 in ikon- 
kan. and 15 in the rest of the State. 11 Adam found similar condi- 
tions. He enumerated 2.567 schools with 30,915 * pupils, which 
works out at about 12 pupils per school; and in Centres of 
Domestic Instruction, the average number of pupils varied from 
1,225 in Bhawara to 1,423 in Culna. 12 Similar conditions proba- 
bly prevailed in the rest of India as well. This small number 
of pupils per teacher made individual instruction possible. The 
"class 1 ', which is really a method of mass production that has come 
into vogue especially after the Industrial Revolution, was then 
unknown. Instead, each pupil formed the unit of instruction. 
He joined the school at any time of the year and at any age ; 
very often, he brought his own curriculum too, because the parents 
occasionally dictated what their boys had to be taught ; while 
at school, he received instruction according to his own needs 
and pace of progress and could pass from one unit of study to 
another irrespective of the progress of others ; and he was tree 
to leave the school at any time as soon as he had learnt all that he 
desired to know or that the school had to teach. Modern educa- 
tion dislodged this method of individual instruction and replaced 
it by the “class" ; but it has since realised the disservice done and 
now seems to be anxious to ring the knell of class-teaching and to 
go back to individual instruction ; or if that were not possible, 
it at least desires to reduce the size of the class and to combine* 
class-teaching with individual attention. Those who decry indige- 
nous schools as inefficient may do well to remember that some as- 
pects of their teaching were as “progressive” as those of the best 

19 Nurullah and Naik : op. cit. p. 41. 

21 R. V, Parulekar : op. cit. p. xxii. 

12 Nurull ah and Naik : op. cit. pp. 29-31. 


The head of a single-teacher school has to manage four or 
five different classes at a time and, to many persons, it seems a 
very difficult or almost impossible task. But it must be remembered 
that our teachers of ancient times had an even more difficult 
task to perform. Although each of them had to manage about 
15 pupils, each pupil was a class by himself and was often at a 
different stage of progress. To meet this situation, therefore, they 
evolved a very interesting method known as the monitorial system. 
Under this plan, the senior pupils were required, for some time 
every day, to instruct the junior ones. The teacher thus took 
successive pupils or groups of pupils and, in the meanwhile, 

kept the rest of the school busy either over some assignment or 

by making the “monitors” teach the less advanced pupils. Seve- 
ral variations of the plan were in vogue ; but one of the most 
interesting was the practice of pairing off pupils. “What chiefly 
distinguishes the Hindoo schools”, wrote the Bombay Education 
Society in their Report of 1817, “is the plan of instruction by 
the scholars themselves. When a boy (the girls are never taught 
to read and write amongst the Natives of India) joins the school, 
he is immediately put under the tuition and care of one who is 

more advanced in knowledge, and whose duty it is to give lessons 

to his young pupil, to assist him in learning, and to report his be- 
haviour and progress to the master. The scholars are not classed, 
but are generally paired off, each pair consisting of an instructor 
and a pupil. These pairs are so arranged that a boy less advanced 
may sit next to one who has made greater progress, and from whom 
he receives assistance and instruction. When, however, several 
of the older boys have made considerable and nearly equal pro- 
gress, they are seated together in one line and receive their ins- 
truction directly from the master ; by these methods the master 
has sufficient leisure to exercise a vigilant superintendence on the 
school and of enquiring into the progress made by each pupil 
under his instruction.” 1 * 

This system first came to the notice of the Rev. Dr. Andrew 
Bell, Chaplain of Madras. He was so impressed by its effective- 
ness and by its capacity to reduce the cost of education by in- 
creasing the number of pupils per teacher that he introduced it 
into England where it was known as the monitorial or even the 
Madras system. Several contemporary documents admit this cont- 
ribution which the indigenous system of education in India 
made to the spread of mass education in England. For instance, 
in 1814, the Court of Directors recommended the system to the 
Governor-General-in-Council of Bengal. “The mode of instruc- 
tion”, they wrote, “that from time immemorial has been prac- 
tised under these masters has received the highest tribute of 
praise by its adoption in this country, under the direction of the 

13 R. K Parulekar : op. cit. p. xxxvi. 


Reverend Dr. Bell, formerly Chaplain at Madras and it has now 
become the mode by which education is conducted in our na~ 
tional establishments, from a conviction of the facility it affords 
in the acquisition of language by simplifying the process of ins- 
truction.” 14 

Apart from its economic value as a means of raising the 
teacher-pupil ratio, it is possible to argue, on purely educational 
grounds, that the monitorial system is a good device that should 
have much wider recognition and use at our hands. Even its 

worst opponents would find it difficult to deny that it makes 
things easy for the teacher when obstinate economic factors make 
the ratio of pupil to teacher large, and when the existence of small 
villages superimposes an additional difficulty, viz., the need to 
handle a number of classes simultaneously. Moreover, it has seve- 
ral advantages for the pupils as well. Like the quality of mercy 
it is twice blessed ; it blesses him that teaches as well as him that 
learns ; and once the “rapport” between the pupils concerned 
is established, it makes learning a playful adventure with fellow 
comrades and fully compensates for all the deficiencies of the 
child-teacher’s lack of professional training and technique. With- 
in the domain of formal instruction, it may be described, by a 
slight variation of a common slogan, as the method of “learning 
by teaching” ; and it has been recently revived in an altogether 
unexpected context by the well-known educationist missionary, 
Dr. Frank Laubach, who devised the method of “each one, 
teach one” to spread literacy among adults. 15 At any rate, it 
would certainly be wrong to set the monitorial system aside as 
“crude and antidiluvian” without a further enquiry. 

The object of this rather lengthy discussion has been to show 
that single-teacher schools have been an old tradition in Indian 
education and not, as some European critics of Indian education 
would have us believe, an evil that arose as a result of the transfer 
of education to Indian control in 1921 ; 16 and that our past tradi- 
tions have evolved methods and forged tools that will, with some 
modifications, still enable us to overcome some of the teaching 
difficulties they create. If properly approached, therefore, these 
past traditions will not only take away the “bogey” aspect of 
single-teacher schools but will also show some ways to improve 
their conditions and status. 

The Modem Era (1813-1921) 

When the first attempts to organise Primary education under 
the East India Company began to be made in the years follow- 
ing the Charter Act of 1813, the old tradition of single-teacher 

u Sharp : Selection from Educational Records Vol. I, p 23. 

15 Laubach : Toward a Literate World. 

16 See : pp. infra. 



schools was adopted as a ‘ modus operand i' by the new system as well. 
In the State of Bombay, for example, almost all the primary 
schools established by the Bombay Native Education Society 
between 1823 and 1840 and by the Board of Education between 
1840 and 1854, were single-teacher schools. The rules on the 
subject provided that the monthly salary of the teachers was 
to be regulated on the basis of the number of pupils, i.e., Rs. 10 
for schools of 50 children or less; Rs. 12 for 50 to 70 children; 
Rs. 15 for 70 to 90 children ; and Rs. 20 for schools with more 
than 90 pupils. 17 The implication obviously is that, as a rule, 
only one teacher was to be appointed to look after a primary 
school. He was expected to adopt the monitorial system if the 
number of pupils was large ; and the cases when an additional 
teacher was appointed were so few that they did not vitiate the 
general statement that, in 1855, almost all the Government 
primary spSools in the State of Bombay were single-teacher insti- 

This fact becomes all the more impressive if it is remembered 
that these schools were situated, not in small villages where single- 
teacher schools become inevitable, but in places which by our 
modern standards can only be regarded as urban or semi-urban. 
The enrolment of pupils was generally large, the average number 
of children per school being 68 in 1855; the classes varied from 
6 to 10; and yet they were all managed by single- teachers and 
were held to be working satisfactorily. Similarly, in Madras, the 
District and Tahsildaree schools of Munro were all single-teacher 
institutions although they were located at District and Tahsil 
headquarters. 18 The Halkabandi schools established by Thoma- 
son in the North Western Provinces were also single-teacher 
schools. 19 There is, therefore, enough evidence to conclude that 
single-teacher primary schools were the order of the day in the 
modern system of education prior to 1855. 

In that year, the Education Departments came into existence 
under Wood’s Education Despatch and they remained in sup- 
reme control of educational activities till 1921. During this period 
of about 65 years, single-teacher schools gradually receded in- 
to the background. Of the various factors that brought about 
this change, three may be mentioned here. The first was the 
expansion of education which brought more and more children 
to schools so that, under the pressure of a sheer increase in num- 
bers, additional teachers had to be appointed and single-teacher 
schools had to be converted into multi-teacher institutions. 

17 Report of the Board of Education 1841, p. 130. 

^Selections from Educational Records Vol. I, p.75. 

^Selections from Educational Records. Vol. IT, p. 231. 

Secondly, education was restricted in extent, throughout 
this period, to urban areas and the bigger villages, i.e., places where 
the need of starting single-teacher schools were obviously less. 

But the most important factor which reduced the number of 
single-teacher schools was the third, viz ., the abandonment of 
the monitorial system and the reduction in the size of the ave- 
rage class. Both these “reforms” were adopted in a desire to imi- 
tate English precedents. When England gave up the monitorial 
system and decided to adopt smaller classes, Indian educators 
followed suit. , They forgot, however, that England decided 
to give up economy devices like the monitorial system or larger 
class units after her expansion programme had been almost com- 
pleted and after her national dividend had increased to such an 
extent that * she could afford to bear the increased financial lia- 
bility of these reforms without whittling down any programme 
of mass education. India, on the other hand, had yet a long 
way to go to achieve complete expansion ; not only her poverty 
but population was increasing at a very rapid rate ; and there- 
fore, her ability to support a programme of universal education 
was decreasing rather than increasing and she needed all the 
old economy devices more urgently than at any time in the past. 
But these socio-economic differences between England and India 
were; ignored and the English ideas of smaller classes and full- 
time direct instruction by teachers were blindly adopted in India. 
Consequently, several schools which would have been continued 
in charge of single teachers in the past were now provided with 
two or more teachers. As a result of all these factors, the per- 
centage of single-teacher schools decreased considerably bet- 
ween 1855 and 1921 — the period of the supreme authority of 
the Education Departments. 

There is no need to regret this reduction. It was, in a way, 
inevitable and there is no denying the fact that it did secure some 
qualitative improvement. But even more satisfactory is the fact 
that this reduction did not imply any hostility towards them. 
The single-teacher school phobia which was so characteristic of 
the Department in the twenties and thirties of the present cen* 
tury was then unknown, and the Department accepted them un- 
questioningly as a necessary part of their organisation. It is also 
significant that none of the documents of this period refer to them 
as weak institutions which cause waste. The Indian Education 
Commission of 1822 submitted a voluminous report of more than 
700 pages of foolscap size which dealt specially with the problems 
of primary education. But it made no mention of single-teacher 
schools at all ! Curzon’s Review of Education in 1904 also makes 
no reference to them. It is said that Curzon touched every as- 
pect of education and touched nothing that he did not reform. 
It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose that if the Department 


had then entertained a small fraction of the hostility it later de- 
veloped towards single-teacher schools, Curzon would certainly 
have said and done something about them. But apparently 
they were regarded as so innocuous at this time that they failed 
to receive any treatment at his hands. Even the Government 
of India Resolution on Educational Policy dated 21st February, 
1913, makes no reference to single-teacher schools. The Quin- 
quennial Reviews of the Progress of Education in India issued 
between 1886 and 1917 also do not refer to the problem. It may, 
therefore, be said that, throughout the years from 1855 to 1921 
the Education Department did not, at any time, consider that 
single-teacher schools were harmful institutions that deserved 
little short of complete elimination. 

Two important developments of this period were, however, 
indirectly inimical to single-teacher schools. The first of these 
was the introduction of “classes” with regular graded curricula 
and annual promotions. This concept also was adopted from 
English precedents. Indians, long accustomed to treating the 
whole school as one class and each pupil as a unit of instruction, 
did hot like the reform. But their voice counted for little and 
“classes” did become the order of the day very soon. 

In an urban centre, large schools can be easily established 
and one teacher can be placed in charge of a class. The class 
system, therefore, worked well in big schools where one teacher 
was called upon to manage one, or at the most two classes. But 
when the single teacher of a rural school was asked to adopt 
the plan, superhuman difficulties stared him in the face. He 
had to manage four or five classes at a time ; arrange a time-table 
for each class according to subjects and periods ; and try to 
keep every pupil as fully busy as possible throughout the school 
period. His task, therefore, was like that of a chess player who 
had to play a number of games simultaneously. In fact, it was 
even more strenuous because children are more difficult to manage 
than chess-pieces. Discarding the monitorial system increased 
these instructional difficulties still further and there is little wonder 
that the average teacher who was generally untrained and poorly 
educated and who obtained little or no assistance from the ins- 
pecting staff, failed to perform his duties properly. Secondly, 
the curriculum of primary schools was revised every now and then 
throughout the period under review. The oldest syllabus was 
also the simplest and was mainly confined to the three R’s. But 
at each successive revision, it was amplified because contemporary 
England was in process of revising her syllabus in a similar manner. 
New subjects were introduced ; higher standards were expected 
in subjects already taught ; and on the whole, an attempt was 
made to crowd as many things as possible into the primary curri- 


There is nothing basically wrong in this trend; but the 
trouble for single-teacher schools arose out of an error of omis- 
sion connected with this reform. The curriculum was generally 
prepared for urban schools and with urban conditions in view. 
Here, the teachers were better qualified ; the pupils came from 
better surroundings ; it was possible to place a teacher in charge 
of one ortwo classes; and the attendance was far more regular 
than in rural areas. The solitary teacher of the small village 
school, therefore, could ^pever be expected to teach such an am- 
bitious course with his handicaps and in an unhelpful environ- 
ment. But no thought was given to this aspect of the problem ; 
no attempt was made to evolve a separate curriculum for single- 
teacher rural schools ; and they were expected to follow the same 
curriculum as was prescribed for urban schools and to attain the 
same standards by adopting the same methods. When they failed 
to do so, the failure was attributed, not to the impossible stand- 
ards expected of them, but to the inefficiency of the single-teacher 
schools. This was especially the case after 1902 when “the im- 
provement of the quality of instruction” became the greatest slogan 
of the departmental officials. 

Both these developments, therefore, made the single-teacher 
schools cut a poorer figure in comparison with the more fortu- 
nate institutions in urban areas and a feeling began to grow that 
the work of the single-teacher schools was not satisfactory and 
that something had to be done about it. It remained suppressed 
so long as the Department ruled the situation ; but as soon as 
education was transferred, in 1921, to the control of Indian Minis- 
ters, the simmering dissatisfaction burst in all its vehemence, 
and it now began to be argued that single-teacher schools were 
so inefficient that they should be scrapped altogether. 20 Thus began 
a controversy which held the field for about two decades and 
which materially hampered the progress of the small rural schools 
on sound educational lines. 

The Controversy (1921-47) 

The first shot in the controversy was fired by the Review of the 
Progress of Education in India (1917-22). This document really covers 
the quinquennium immediately prior to the transfer of education 
to Indian control; but it was actually published after the transfer 
and, consequently, made a mild start in a controversy which was 
about to burst forth in full vigour. It categorically stated that the 
inefficiency of the ordinary village school was due, among other 
things, to the excessive number of classes assigned to a single 
teacher. “The village school master”, it observed, “ill-framed 
in vitality and learning and depressed by poverty, is in sole charge 

20 This was mainly because of political reasons which will be discussed later. 
2— 7 M. of Edu./63 



of a school of five classes or sections which he has to instruct m 
all the subjects of a varied course. There is no fixed date of ad- 
mission. Pupils come in month by month according to caprice 
or the influence of their horoscopes. The lower class, a class m 
which numbers are high, is a collection of little groups, each at 
different stage of advancement. And there are four classes above 
this.” In spite of this comment, the Review made no suggestion 
for the elimination of the single-teacher schools. It only pitied the 
solitary teacher who was to face a difficult job and declared that 
“the most skilful teacher of either sex would be disheartened if 
placed in sole charge of a village primary school.” 21 

But the severest of all attacks was launched soon afterwards 
by the Royal Commission on Agriculture (1928). “We entirely 
agree”, they wrote, “with those educational authorities who hold 
that no primary school can be efficient which has less than two 
teachers Unless the school which has at present one teacher can 
be provided with an additional teacher or converted into a branch 
school consisting of one or two classes only, with the object of 
providing teaching for young children until they are old enough 
to walk to the central school, it is better closed, for it is both 
ineffective and extravagant. We realise that financial consi- 
derations militate against the provision of a second teacher tor 
the small primary school. It is estimated that the minimum num- 
ber of pupils required for the primary school from the point of 
view of economical administration is about a hundred, whereas 
the average number attending each primary school at the end of 
1 925-26 was only 43. But nothing is to be gained by failure to 
face the fact that a village which has a primary school with only 
one teacher might almost as well be without a school at all. We, 
therefore, recommend that, wherever possible, the policy of 
establishing ‘central’ schools and of converting ‘single-teacher 
schools into ‘branch’ schools should be adopted.” 22 This was a 
strong and wholesale condemnation of a system which had sur- 
vived for centuries and the pity is that it was entirely based on 
‘opinions’. No scientific investigations had been carried out to 
test the relative efficiency of single-teacher schools as against 
multi-teacher ones, nor were any such investigations suggested 
or discussed. Even the evidence . of analogy, viz., the existence 
of good single-teacher schools in large numbers in countries like 
the U.S.A., Canada and Australia was totally ignored ; and an im- 
possible fiat which could not but do incalculable harm to the 
progress of rural education was issued by the very organisation 
which appeared to have attached the greatest importance to its 

n Para 214. 

M Report, pp. 525-26. 

A little later appeared the Report of the Hartog Committee 
which was equally damaging to the future of single-teacher schools 
(1929). It agreed that, “in favourable circumstances, with a good 
teacher trained in methods of plural class teaching a school of this 
type serves a useful purpose” and that single-teacher schools 
were then too numerous to be all replaced or remodelled within 
a short time. 24 All the same, it agreed with the view of the Royal 
Commission on Agriculture and felt that there is not “much 
promise of effective progress in a system which depends so predo- 
minantly on schools of this type.” 25 It, therefore, deprecated the 
tendency seen in States like Madras, Bihar and Bengal “to re- 
gard the multiplication of schools of the single-teacher type as 
the easiest, if not the best, way of providing facilities for primary 
education”. 26 

In the face of such a hostile attitude, it is naturally impossible 
to expect any useful suggestions from this Report. But it did 
make two valuable recommendations. The first is the conver- 
sion of the single-teacher school into a branch school teaching two 
classes only. Under this plan, a multi-teacher central school lo- 
cated in a big village teaches the whole primary course. In the 
small villages of the neighbourhood, a branch of the central 
school is started instead of an independent school and it teaches 
the lower two standards only. The young children of the village 
can thus attend a school in their own village and when grown 
up, they are expected to attend the central school. It was, 
therefore, claimed that, in this plan, the number of classes in a 
single-teacher school was reduced without creating an obstacle 
in the expansion of primary education. 27 Secondly, it recommend- 
ed that teachers should be trained in plural class teaching. 
“In view of the very large number of existing single-teacher 
schools”, the Committee said, “and in view of the fact that these 
schools cannot be all replaced or remodelled for a considerable 
time, the system adopted in Bombay and Assam of giving special 
instruction in the training schools in the methods of plural class 
teaching (i.e., the way in which one teacher can best do justice 
to each of the several classes of which he is in charge) is obvious- 
ly beneficial. Suitable training in the * handling of more than 
one class should not only improve the teaching in single-teacher 
schools, but also provide valuable guidance to the teachers now 
working in branch schools”. 2 * The merits of these recommendations 

“Report, p. 61. 

"Ibid, p. 79. 

"Ibid, p. 61-2. 

"Ibid, p. 61. 

17 The idea was not new. The committee took it from the Punjab which 
was trying it out on a large scale and had, at this this time, as many as 2,707 
branch schools. 

"Report, p. 79. 


will be discussed later. But they were obviously tame and 
transitional in character and did not disguise the fundamental 
hostility of the Committee to the single-teacher schools. 

One wonders why the Department which put up with single- 
teacher schools without a word of protest from 1855 to 1921 
should so vehemently criticise them within less than a decade 
of the transfer of control to Indian Ministers. A careful study 
of the evidence available shows that the reasons were unfortu- 
nately political rather than educational. The transfer of educa- 
tion to Indian control was not liked by several European members 
of the Indian Educational Service, especially as they were now 
required to serve under an Indian Head. They were, therefore, 
very eager to show that the cause of education had suffered by 
transfer to Indian control. 

This desire was also shared by imperialistic elements. The 
Declaration of 20th August, 1917, had stated that Indians would 
be given self-rule by stages and that the time and extent of each 
stage of advance would depend upon a number of factors among 
which the growth of education would be one. Friends of the 
Empire, therefore, felt that it would serve their purpose to show 
that Indian Ministers had mishandled education, and this was 
the whole burden of the Hartog Report which condemned the 
expansionist policies followed by Indian Ministers as wasteful 
and ineffective. At this time, it was only the small villages that 
were without schools, and the only way to provide them with es- 
sential educational facilities was to begin by starting single- 
teacher schools. The Indian Ministers naturally adopted this 
inescapable device ; and the officials who were out to show that 
the ministerial policies were wrong, started a fusillade against 
the very idea of the single-teacher school. It is very necessary to 
remember this political background because it conclusively shows 
that not much weight need be attached to the opinions of those 
who, at this time, tried to create a prejudice against single-teacher 
schools without undertaking or carrying out any scientific investi- 
gation whatsoever into the subject. 

The Reports of the Royal Commission on Agriculture and the 
Hartog Committee started the war to end the single-teacher 
schools and their advice was followed literally in several areas. 
Some States which had already started action on the lines now 
obtained moral support to strengthen their campaign and others 
joined afresh in the warfare. The most important of these was 
Madras Here the Ministry had accepted the recommendation 
of a conference held in 1923 to the effect that the expansion of 
primary education should be brought about by the multipli- 
cation of single-teacher schools. Accordingly 825 such schools 
were started in 1924, 2,038 in 1925 and 1,508 in 1926. The same 


policy of expansion 1 continued to be in “full swing” till 1930. 
Thereafter mainly owing to these adverse Reports, the tide 
began to turn and Government adopted a policy of concentration 
and elimination. The result was the closure of a large number of 
single-teacher schools and, therefore, the total number of primary 
schools decreased from 46,389 in 1926-27 to 41,141 in 1936-37. 
This obviously meant a great setback ; but the Director was 
glad of his achievement in eliminating a large number of “ineffi- 
cient, uneconomic and superfluous schools” countenanced in 
the expansion drive organised between 1920 and 1930. 29 Even 
the Government of India complimented him and the Quinquennial 
Review for 1932-37 declared that “commendable action” had 
been taken in Madras “to prevent the sanction of increased grants 
to single-teacher schools”. 30 The Punjab made a heroic start. 
In 1922 it had as many as 2,754 single-teacher schools ; but with- 
in a few years, their number was reduced to less than 500. But 
this policy could not be kept up and by 1936-37, it again rose 
to 1,802 or 31*0 per cent of the total number of primary schools. 

Uttar Pradesh also followed Madras and tried to eliminate 
single-teacher schools. Between 1922 and 1932, the number of 
primary schools had increased from 16,800 to 21,700. But owing 
to the change of policy, it decreased to 19,200 in 1945. In 1927, 
the percentage of single-teacher schools was 50. It came down 
to 20 in 1945. But what a tremendous setback this policy meant 
to educational progress may be easily imagined. By far the most 
strenuous attempts in this direction were made in the Baroda State. 
Almost all the single-teacher schools were abolished either by 
closure or by the appointment of an additional teacher, and a rule 
was adopted to the effect that no new primary school would be 
opened unless there were at least 75 children to attend it. 

The results were disastrous. The total number of primary 
schools in the State fell from 2,996 in 1926-27 to 2,542 in 1937-38. 
In the latter year, the number of single-teacher schools was only 
33. As many as 1,325 small villages (out of a total of 2,969 in the 
State) which could not manage to send 75 children to a school and 
whose population was 4,95,347 or 21 per cent of the total population 
had no educational facilities whatsoever. It is all the more unfortu- 
nate that these villages were largely inhabited by backward 
tribes like the Rani Paraj who needed education most and it was 
precisely they that were denied it under this policy. 31 Some 
other States also made a few attempts to eliminate the single- 
teacher schools or to reduce theif number. But none of them 

29 Report for 1936-37, p. 86. 

30 Vol. I, p.134. 

31 /. P. Naik : Compulsory Primary Education in Baroda State (Progress 
of Education, Poona, February, 1941). 


obtained any success whatsoever. The single-teacher school 

persisted with a dogged obstinacy and, in deference to public 
pressure for educational expansion, even tended to increase 
in numbers. The only result of the ill-advised attempts to eli- 
minate the single-teacher schools, therefore, was to hold up the 
pace of expansion and to deny educational opportunities to the 
small and backward villages which needed them most. 

Even while such attempts to realise the impossible were go- 
ing on, good thinkers had already started an agitation against 
the attempt to eliminate the single-teacher schools. The lead in 
the matter came from J. A. Richey whose name holds a place 
of honour in Indian educational history as that of a competent 
and sympathetic officer who gave serious thought to several 
educational problems. As early as 1929, he wrote an article in 
the ‘ Asiatic Review ' in which he suggested that an attempt should 
be made to improve single-teacher schools. He admitted that the 
solitary teacher in charge of a village school had a very difficult 
task to perform ; but he did not think it impossible. “If these 
statements (/.e., that single-teacher schools can never be improved: 
rand, therefore, are better eliminated) are true”, he wrote, “we 
may well despair of the future of rural education in India ; for 
nothing is more certain than that if education is ultimately to 
reach the more backward and sparsely inhabited tracts, it must 
be by means of the single-teacher schools. No other type is eco- 
nomically possible. But, of course, these statements are very exag- 
gerated. We have evidence enough in the thousand good single- 
teacher schools in the United States, Canada, Australia and South 
Africa. I have inspected a number of such schools in South Africa,, 
and more, I have visited many good single-teacher schools in 
India itself”.® 2 

Another educationist who voiced his protest was Shri N. S. 
Subba Rao, the Director of Public Instruction in Mysore, who 
took his stand on the persistence of the single-teacher school in 
very large numbers in the U.S. A. and said : “If this is the condition 
of the things in a country so rich and so well provided with excellent 
means of communications as the United States of America any 
scheme of reorganisation and consolidation in Mysore or India: 
where single-teacher schools are numerous, must accept for years; 
to come such schools as an inevitable part of the scheme of things 
and attempt to attain the maximum possible efficiency on the- 
basis of such schools”. 51 Similar sentiments were also expressed 
by Mr. R. Littlehailes who, at the invitation of the State Govern- 
ment submitted a detailed report on the reconstruction of edu- 
cation in Baroda. He strongly condemned the drive under- 
taken by the State to eliminate single-teacher schools and said : 

** Asiatic Review , January, 1929, p. 89. 

••Report of the D. P. I., Mysore, 1933-34, p. 35. 


“Single-teacher schools under a trained teacher may be quite 
satisfactory ; they are not objectionable. I should go further 
and allow temporarily single-teacher schools under untrained 
teachers and knowing that a school once closed down is difficult 
to resuscitate would not close a school merely because its single 
teacher was untrained. The policy of the department has been 
to abolish single-teacher schools and only a few remain, about 
60 in number, ten of which are not working. Many schools which 
were formerly provided with only a single teacher have been 
closed, others have been provided with an additional teacher. 
This policy I submit is not for the good of the country, especially 
in its present stage of educational advancement. In places where 
the school has been closed, facilities for education no longer exist 
and the children remain illiterate. In places where an additional 
teacher has been added, though the individual instruction given 
to pupils may have been slightly improved, the strength of the 
school has not been appreciably increased ; it has certainly not 
doubled ; furthermore, the cost of the school has increased two- 
fold though the instruction given has not improved to anything 
like the same extent.” 

“There will always be small villages where the employment 
of only a single- teacher is all that can be economically justified, 
and wastage in school effort will always be with us, especially 
when illiteracy is large, so that single-teacher schools will have 
to remain in parts of Baroda just as they remain in small and 
out-of-the-way villages in other parts of the world. What is desir- 
able is that where a single-teacher school exists, the teacher 
should be conscientious in character and trained. It has not been 
found impossible in other countries for a single teacher to con- 
duct several small classes in a small village ; it should not be 
impossible in Baroda. I advise the opening of single-teacher 
schools in places where they have been closed and the transfer 
to them of trained teachers”. 14 

But by far the greatest of all protests was launched by Shri 
R. V. Parulekar. He made the most detailed and elaborate study 
of the important aspects of the problem 38 and concluded that 
“those who advocate the abolition or amalgamation and conso- 
lidation of single-teacher schools have failed to visualise their 
indispensable place in the frame-work of the Indian educational 
system”, and that “the right approach to the problem is to mend 
these schools rather than to end them.”** 

•‘Report on Education in Baroda State, paras. 102*03. It must be stated 
that this recommendation had no effect and the policy of the State continued 

•• Literacy in India , Chapter X. 



This saner view soon began to gain greater ascendancy and 
its general acceptance was hastened by two factors. The hqui- 

•s.'s— nsrjzr i 

pciwe^by the CongresT^in^stries^u^er^rovinctal Autonomy gave 


schools. The bogey which the Royal ^ when 

raised la 1928 was therefore, t-vco a fi “ lb " r ^ bV ed „ ad „ nht 

minted Their indispensable character is universally recognised. 

iir^“L*^r«ts^ IX. — 

of our rural education. 



Before turning to the consideration of the more important 
problems of single-teacher schools and the methods by which 
their administrative and teaching efficiency can be improved, 
it is necessary to pause a little and to see if any guidance in the 
matter can be obtained from the practice of other nations. India 
is not the only country which has to face the problems of single- 
teacher schools. As small units of population exist in all nations, 
single-teacher schools are ubiquitous. But in some countries, 
their numbers are so small as to be ignored, while in others, 
they are so numerous that special attention has been paid 
to their improvement and several research studies and experi- 
ments on the subject have been carried out. The experience of 
this latter group of countries will naturally be of immense use to 
us in dealing with the problems connected with the subject. 
Indian educationists interested in the problem, must, therefore, 
study all the literature available and see if any of the techniques 
evolved in other nations to deal with the problems of single- 
teacher schools can as well be adapted to the rural conditions in 

United States of America 

Probably, the one country whose experience will be of the 
greatest use to us is the United States of America because, con- 
trary to popular belief, the U.S.A. is more rural than urban. It is 
true that only about 45 per cent of the total population in the 
U.S.A. is rural in character ; but the urban population has an 
appreciable majority in 12 States only and in as many as 27 States, 
it is the rural population which has a majority. 37 Even more signi- 
ficant is the fact that the typical rural school in the U.S.A. is a 
single-teacher institution. The tradition began in the pioneer days 
when the early colonists lived in small settlements and built a 
“little red schoolhouse” for their children within almost walk- 
ing distance of every child. This was a simple institution with 
a few pupils and a single teacher and, in spite of the march of 
progressive influences, this old-fasioned rural school still conti- 
nue to survive in surprising members and in surprising places. 28 
In several areas, the proportion / of single-teacher schools to the 
total number of primary schools is very large, much larger, in fact, 
than that in India. Miss Wofford, Director of Rural Education, 

37 7. E. Schatzmann ; The Country School, p. 137. 
28 1 bid, p. 140. 



State Teachers’ College, Buffalo, N.Y. points out : “According; 

to the Biennial Survey of Education, 1937-38, the latest available 
statistics — there were 229-394 school buildings in use in the forty- 
eight states and the District of Columbia in 1938. Of this number 
52*8 per cent were one-room buildings, the percentages ranging 
from 7*2 per cent in Utah to 83 per cent in South Dakota. 
One half or more of the school buildings in use in twenty states 
were one-teacher schools. States with high percentages of one- 
room schools, are South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, 
Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, West Virginia, Michigan, Ken- 
tucky, Arkansas, Wyoming, Oregon, and Colorado. In all these 
states, according to the Survey, 50 per cent or more of the school 
buildings were one-room structures. A sampling of sixteen states 
gave an even higher percentages of small schools ; 64*77 per 
cent were one- teacher schools, 17*17 per cent two-teacher, 7*42 
per cent three-teacher, 5*39 per cent four-teacher, 2*51 per cent 
five-teacher and 2*76 per cent six-teacher schools. In other words, 
90.09 per cent of the schools in the states sampled housed their 
children in schools having six or fewer teachers”.** 

The attention of American educationists was soon drawn to 
the problem of rural education in general and of the single-teacher 
school in particular. New ideas were put forward and tried ; 
experimental projects were conducted by universities and other 
interested organisations ; a good deal of research was carried out ; 
and specialised courses in rural education in general and for the 
teachers of the “small rural schools” in particular were instituted. 
Within a few years, almost every aspect of the problem was studied 
and literature on the subject was produced in such superabund- 
ance as only America can afford. Here, therefore, is a wealth 
of experience and material which India can draw upon with 
great advantage. 

American educationists, like Indian administrators of the 
nineteen-twenties, also felt for a time that the best way out of 
the difficulty would be to establish a central big school to which 
the children of the neighbourhood could be daily transported,, 
and thereby eliminate a number of single-teacher schools in the 
locality. This movement, known popularly as the “Consolida- 
tion of Schools” movement, was in full swing at one time and is* 
still going on to some extent. 

It may be pointed out that the concept is not peculiar to the 
U.S.A. but has been, in fact, tried in several countries which had 
to meet the problem of the small school in a more or less actute form 
“The shortcomings incidental to the single-teacher school and small 
administrative areas”, writes Mr. F. Tate, “have been a potent 
factor in the development of the Consolidated Rural School. Where 

"Kate V . Wofford : Teaching in Small Schools, p. 3. 

roads are suitable and where costs of transport are low, 
it has been found advantageous to close several small 
schools within a country area and transport the children from 
their homes each day to a central school. The advantages of 
such a system in providing better housing and equipment, 
such as separate classrooms for different grades, laboratories 
and workshops, a stronger staff of teachers, greater diversity of 
curriculum, more adequate provision for social and recreational 
activities, and better value for the money expended are suffi- 
ciently obvious to convince local tax-payers and to overcome the 
natural disinclination of parents to allow their children to travel 
considerable distances. The Consolidated School in Canada, 
in the United States, and in England has improved rural education 
very greatly.” 40 

Obviously, this is a plan that involves heavy recurring and 
non-recurring expenditure ; but a country like the U.S.A. could 
adopt it with zest because it had the money to construct the build- 
ings required for the consolidated school as well as to provide 
daily bus transport for all the pupils. But even in the U.S.A., the 
movement is making slow progress and financial difficulties are 
felt on several occasions. The policy of American educators, there- 
fore, is to have a consolidated school if and where possible. 41 
But they know that thousands of schools cannot be consolidated 
for several years to come, and hence they have also given consi- 
derable thought to the methods of improving single-teacher 

It was soon realised that most of the difficulties of the small 
rural school arose from the fact that its solitary teacher had to 
manage as many as eight grades at a time. Educators, therefore, 
began to find out ways and means to restrict the number of grades 
taught in a single-teacher school to five or four only. 

One obvious way to do this was to prevent the small rural 
school, by law, from teaching any grade higher than IV or V. 
The lead in trying out this experiment was taken by two States, 
Louisiana and North Carolina. This plan, it may be incidentally 
pointed out, is like the branch-school idea recommended by 
the Hartog Committee. But as things turned out, it did not achieve 
much. It had to go hand-in-hand with the consolidation of schools 
for the higher grades, including the establishment of central 
schools for the purpose, and the organisation of transport for 
children. But financial and other difficulties came in the way 
and it was possible to work out the idea only in “favoured loca- 
lities and under limited conditions”. 42 

4 *The Rural School in Australia, pp. 84-85. 

€1 De Youug : Introduction to American Public Education, pp. 87-94. 

Ai Kate V. Wofford : Moderen Education in the Small Rural School, p. 82. 


As an alternative to the above, an attempt was made to halve 
the number of grades by combining two consecutive grades into 
one and by adopting a new curriculum to suit the combination. This 
plan is popularly known as “Combination and Alternation of 
Grades”. Under it, the combination of grades varies according 
to local needs. Usually, the plan includes the combination of 
grades III and IV, V and VI, VII and VIII. In the South, be- 
cause of its elementary school organisation of seven grades the 
combination usually includes grades II and III, IV and V, VI 
and VII. Because of its system of Regents Examinations, the State 
of New York recommends no combination in the grades VII and 
VIII: Many states do not recommend the combination of grades 
I and II except for classes other than the tool subjects. 
The combined grades are usually designated in the new 
organisation by letters of the alphabet, “A” usually for grades 
VII and VIII, <fc B” for grades V and VI, “C” for grades III and 
IV. “D” for grades I and II. If grades I and II are combined, 
a school of eight grades becomes organised, under this plan, 
into four groups which meet as classes. The number of classes 
is thus reduced by half. 

“As a corollary to the reorganisation of the programme, a 
few states have organised their courses of study to fit the combina- 
tion of grades. Generally, two outlines are furnished to the schools 
for each group of classes A, B and C. Efforts are made to have 
the outlines as nearly agree in difficulty as possible, so that children 
pursue either outline without being too seriously handicapped. 
The outlines— one for each year — are set up in terms of odd and 
even years, the children entering in the odd years pursuing the 
same outline of subject matter found in the regular order of the 
grades. It is only the children who enter school in the even years 
who take an indirect route through the grades, pursuing upper 
grade work before they complete the lower. Thus, a child who 
enters school for the first time in September 1936 will take the 
following route : for the first two years of his school life he v. ill 
remain in his normal grade ; that is, for 1936-37 he will be assign- 
ed to grade I, in 1937-38 he will be located in grade II. In the 
fall of 1938 his route will become devious. He will be assigned 
to Group C and take fourth grade work ; in 1939-40 he will 
study third grade materials ; in 1940-41 he will skip to sixth 
grade ; and in 1941-42 he will switch back to the outline for grade 
five ; in 1942-43 he will study and recite in the eighth grade level ; 
and in 1943-44 he will return for his seventh grade materials”. 4,1 

The outline given here represents only a few of the attempts 
to reduce the number of grades. It should not, however, be sup- 
posed that four was the lowest number of groupings among the 

iZ Kate V. Wofford : op. cit. pp. 83-4. 


m-ades In the experimental school at Quaker Grove, for instance, 
grades were rearranged in three groups only. “Enrol- 
ment in the eight grades of the school ranged from 40 to 
sn children and obviously an efficiency organisation of . the 
«*ool day was immediate and pressing. It was soon realised, 
however, that the goal involved more than an organisation of 
,im» since the necessity for grouping grades and children was 
aiTo present. To meet this exigency the children were divided 
to o three groups instead of the traditional four or five, and the 
subject matter to fit these groups was organised into three cycha 
of X Y and Z years instead of the years designated as odd and 
even’ One group consisted of the primary grades I, II and HI 
and was desisted as Group C; a second grouping was accomp- 
lished by a combination of the ln ^™ ,e ^ te ® ra J* yill tere 
into Group B; and the .upper grades VI, VII and vui were 
combined into Group A. By such an organisation the eight grades 
were thus reduced to three groups which fall easily into the 
framework of a daily programme. 

“Ordinarily, under this plan, each group of pupils completes 
the work in three years and with the completion of the three years, 
frldy for „tmL into tta lint year of a tagh school m i Urn 
eight-four plan and. wilt slight adjustments, the sm-thiw-Uiree 
system However, the plan provides richly for individual dif- 
ferences. Indeed, one of its strongest features is its flexibility. 
Highly superior children can complete the course in six at _ 
years instead of nine, while slow ones can pass from group to 
group at a slower rate of speed.”* 1 

Several other experiments on such lines are also reported, 
but Sy need not be described here. The illustrations 
above will show the fundamental features of such plans. Th y 
are all based on the principle that the , 1S aa 

cible unit. They all regroup children suitably in three, four 01 
five classes and remake the curriculum to suit this arrangement 
thereby overcoming the three great inherent difficulties of the 
single-teacher school, viz., large numbers of grades to be taught, 
the small number of children in each grade, and wide differences 
represented by the total group of children in age, experience, and 

The increase in the number of subjects to be taught was the 
second reason for increasing the difficulties of the solitary rural 
teacher. Attempts were also made, therefore, to combmesub 
jects in lieu of (or even in addition to) the combmationofgrades^ 
The old idea of a watertight division between one subject and 
another is fast disap pearing in modern education and even m 

••Kate V. Wofford : op. cit. pp. 84^. 


schools where one grade is in one teacher’s charge, an attempt 
is being made to teach the different subjects in a correlated man- 
ner and to weave all teaching round a few ‘centres of interest’ 
rather than spread them over a large number of ‘subjects’. Such 
combination and correlation of subject matter becomes extremely 
helpful in single-teacher schools and is, therefore, being increas- 
ingly adopted in the American small schools. Reinoehl, for 
instance, found 47 different combinations of two or more subjects 
in an examination of 26 model programmes. 45 The combinations 
most often used include Geography, History and Civics, desig- 
nated as the Social Studies ; Reading and Spelling ; Reading, 
English, and Spelling ; Reading and History. Composition is 
often correlated with Geography and History, or sometimes with 
Reading. According to Wofford, the method is not only desirable 
to make the task of the teacher lighter,, but is helpful to the pupil 
as it economises learning. 46 As there is hardly any limit to 
the number of ways in which the different subjects in the curri- 
culum can be combined, this idea opens out an almost endless 
field for fruitful research and experimentation in the quest for 
making the instruction in the single-teacher school more effective. 

There is one more thing that we might learn from America. 
Based on the innumerable studies and researches carried out 
by teacher-training institutions, university departments of edu- 
cation and other agencies, the State has produced voluminous 
literature meant directly for the teachers working in small schools. 
The existence of this material combined with special preparation 
courses make the American teacher better equipped to deal 
with his task than the worker in a small rural school in any 
other part of the world. A country like India, therefore, which 
has a persistent problem of innumerable single-teacher schools 
to face cannot but follow this useful precedent. 


Another country whose experience in rural education will 
be of great use to us is Australia. Here the distribution of popu- 
lation is rather peculiar. The capital of each of the six Austra- 
lian States houses about half the population of the entire State 
and the remainder is spread very sparsely over the whole area 
of the mofussil. Australia therefore has a very large number 
of single- teacher schools. As in the U.S.A. it may be said that the 
typical rural school in Australia is also a single-teacher institution. 

It is interesting to note that Australia has never condemned 
single-teacher schools. It has either accepted them without 
question or even grown eloquent about their advantages. The 

"Reinoehl, C . Af. ; Analytical Survey of State Courses of Study for 
Elementary Schools. 

"Kate V ' Wofford : op. cit., p. 91. 


following passage by Mr. F. Tate, Retired Director of Education 
In Victoria forms a strong contrast to the remarks of the Royal 
Commission on Agriculture or the Hartog Committee : 

“The one-teacher school in which several grades are taught 
is in some countries regarded as at best a somewhat unsatis- 
factory arrangement to be abandoned as soon as circumstances 
allow. I found this belief held strongly in Southern Rhodesia 
and in parts of South Africa. It is apparent, too, in the writ- 
ings of several American educationists. Australian administra- 
tors, however, do not generally accept this opinion. They claim 
that teachers specially trained for work in such schools can and 
do secure excellent results ; and that pupils trained to work under 
guidance and being of necessity forced to rely to some extent 
on their own initiative may receive a training superior to that 
of the members of a large class taught by collective methods.* 7 
Neither teachers nor parents regard enrolment in these rural 
schools as a ‘grievous handicap’ to the children: rather do they 
regard it as a privilege to be sought and competed for. I may men- 
tion that when I was in charge of the Education Department of 
Victoria, I deliberately chose to send my own four children to 
one-teacher schools associated with training schools, although 
this entailed a longer journey for them for I was satisfied with 
the organisation and methods employed by the teachers of these 
schools”. 48 

Mr. Tate has also put forward a very interesting thesis re- 
garding the status of the single-teacher school. He refuses to 
believe that single-teacher schools are unpopular because they 
are m a low state of efficiency. On the contrary, he feels that 
the low esteem in which the small rural school is held in some 
countries is due undoubtedly to the less favourable treatment 
which it has received from the community it serves”. 49 After all 
it appears that the people get the schools they deserve and that 

by NfrVatl ?j^ mection ’ attention is invited to the following illustrations given 

"An interesting sidelight upon the efficiency in one teacher school was 
revealed in one Australian Education Department recently when 
it was discovered that 30 inspectors of schools, all University 
graduates, every one of them had received his elementary educa- 
tion in a small rural school. These inspectors were all men who 
had risen above the ranks of their fellow teachers. Making due 
allowance for the fact that, as a rule, the percentage of recruit- 
ment to the teaching service is greater in the country than in the 
city it would appear that there was surely some permanent resi- 
dium from the rural school training which has produced the in- 
terest m and the habit of study, the ability to obtain knowledge 
from the printed page, and a developed self-reliance”. (The Rural 
School in Australia , pp. 87-8.) 

At P • Cole : The Rural School in Australia, pp. 86-7. 

u i\ R . Cole : op. eit., 88. 



it is our neglect of rural life in general and rural education in parti- 
cular which is mainly responsible for the low efficiency of our 
single-teacher schools. 

Among the teaching methods used in the single-teacher 
schools of Australia it is a pleasant surprise to find that the moni- 
torial system is still popular with a large number of Australian 
teachers. “In the one-teacher school”, writes Mr. H. T. Parker,. 
Psychologist and Supervisor of Research to the Department . of 
Education, Tasmania, “pupil monitors are almost essential. 
They are usually selected from the upper grades and deputed 
to supervise certain activities, not only in reading, but in a. 
number of other subjects. What they lose in instruction by ab- 
sence from their own grades, they more than make up in the deve- 
lopment of a greater sense of responsibility. Further, the prestige 
of monitorship may be an incentive to greater effort on the part 
of such children”. 50 This does not mean that the use of pupil- 
monitors is universal and is accepted by all teachers. There is a 
section which still objects to it. But on the whole, the system is 
still in vogue and popular. 

A detailed account of the use of Monitors in Victoria is given 
in a later section. It will be seen from this that the system is lar- 
gely in use even today. Historically, it may be said that the sys- 
tem travelled from its birth-place, India, to Australia, via England. 
It rendered, and is still rendering, a useful service to the cause 
of Australian rural education while India herself has been made 
to abandon it altogether ! 

Another interesting Australian practice which we might 
advantageously copy in India is the emphasis placed on giving 
teachers under training a real insight into the working of single- 
teacher schools. Every Australian teacher is required, while under 
training, to practise in rural school management. For this pur- 
pose, one or more single-teacher schools are attached to every 
training college. When the college is located in an urban area, 
an artificial single-teacher school is created for practice purposes 
by putting together permanently a heterogeneous group of pupils 
from the neighbourhood. The Teachers’ College in Melbourne, 
for example, maintains “several groups of pupils of large schools 
who work permanently as a one-teacher school”. 51 Experiments 
of this type are hardly ever done in our training institutions. 

Regarding the difficulty of handling several classes simulta- 
neously, the Australian teacher is a little better off than the Ameri- 
can, because he has to handle six or seven grades as against 
eight in the U.S.A. He has, however, an equally difficult and wide 

50 jP. /?. Cole : p. 126 

61 Ibid : op. tit,, p. 87. 

curriculum to teach. By adopting the same methods as the 
American teachers do, i.e., by grouping together grades and 
subjects, he generally contrives to discharge his duties satis- 
factorily. “In ‘Tasmania”, writes Mr. H. T. Parker, “they (i.e., 
grades) range from Grade I to Grade VI, Grade I being often 
divided into lower and upper sections, making seven grades in 
all. The position is, roughly, similar in the other States of the 
Commonwealth. The provision of separate instruction in a num- 
ber of subjects for each of these grades is no simple task. The un- 
initiated visitor wonders how it can be done. That it is done, and 
done well, many hundreds of successfully-conducted schools through- 
out the country testify”. 53 

The different methods of grouping the grades and subjects 
usually adopted in Australia need not be discussed here in detail 
because they are similar to those adopted in the U.SA. which have 
already been noted. But mention must be made here of an inte- 
resting method under which the grades are grouped differently 
for different subjects. This may really be described as the method 
of plural-class teaching. For instance, it will be possible to group 
together one set of grades for Reading, another set for History, 
a third for Nature-Study and so on. This sort of plural-class 
teaching is in a way more advantageous than a permanent group- 
ing of certain grades for all subjects. 53 

Finally, it is interesting to note that the Americah movement 
for consolidation of schools does not find much favour in Aus- 
tralia, at least for the time being. As Mr. Tate points out, “the 
system has made little headway, even in settled districts supplied 
with good roads. For the past 50 years there has been provision 
for paying travelling allowances to the nearest school for child- 
ren living remote from the school, but Australian parents have 
never taken kindly to any proposals to close their local one-teacher 
schools in favour of a large central school. The fact that these 
small schools have developed a very efficient organisation and 
method and are well staffed, is undoubtedly one potent reason 
why parents oppose any change. Moreover, as they are not taxed 
locally for the support of their school, they are not immediately 
concerned with possible economies to be effected in State ex- 
penditure by school consolidation. What they do see clearly is 
that their children must in consequence travel several miles a 
day in all weathers. Apart from local patriotism, satisfaction with 
the local school is, perhaps, the strongest factor in opposition to 
any proposals to consolidate schools. Another important consi- 
deration is that in some Australian States the staff of the larger 
schools carries a proportion of student-teachers, and a prudent 

6 *jP. R. Cole : po. tit., pp* 124-5. 

■•For a description of some of the Australian practices in respect of plural- 
class teaching, see pp. infra. 

3—7 of Edifc/63 


parent may well argue that his children may be better off in the 
small local school under a capable trained teacher than in the 
larger organisation with a mixed staff of teachers”. 54 

It is true that there are some indications to show that the 
consolidation idea might come into greater vogue in future. “Large 
numbers of children”, continues Mr. Parker, “are now being 
conveyed to district secondary schools, and it is probably only 
a matter of time before rural primary education will be included 
within a similar organisation”. 55 But this is yet to be. In the mean- 
while, the one lesson we can undoubtedly infer from the Austra- 
lian experience is that the need for consolidation is greatly lessen- 
ed if single-teacher schools can be made efficient. In a poor country 
like India which cannot afford to adopt the consolidation plan on 
financial grounds, this is an experience that is too valuable to he 


Sweden is another essentially rural country. Two-thirds of 
its population lives in villages and, in several areas, the popula- 
tion is very sparsely settled. Like the U.S.A. and Australia, there- 
fore, Sweden also has to maintain a large number of single-teacher 
schools. In the course of years it has tried several experiments 
and evolved several types of single-teacher schools. Some idea 
of their functioning can be had from the following description 
of the different types of Swedish rural schools given by Miss 
I. E. Schatzmann : — 

A schools — have one teacher for each of the six or seven grades. 

B-l schools- — have three teachers in all; one for the first and 
second grades ; one for the third and fourth grades . 
and one for the fifth and sixth grades. All three teachers 
live in or next to the school. 

B-2 schools — have one teacher for all grades, but first grade 
children are admitted only every second year in order 
that the teacher may not have an overcrowded room. 

B-3 schools— have one teacher for all grades, but the children 
are admitted only every other year to the first grade; 
hence the teacher instructs the first, third, and fifth grades 
one year and the second, fourth and sixth grades the 
following year. In cases where some pupils are not ready 
for promotion the teacher may have four or five grades 
to teach concurrently; apparently this does not upset 
the system. 

54 For a description of some of the Australian practices in respect of 
plural class teaching, see pp. Infra p. 85. 



C-l schools— have one teacher, nt two 

of pupils is too large to be accomm^Iw. 1 IfMI 
The older pupils come to the morning scsiU&Mm 
little ones to the afternoon session. 

C-2 schools— have one teacher, but two sessions for the movti. 
reason as in C-l schools. The pupils alternate in a dff 
erent way however. The fim group goes to school 
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the second grorir 
on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 

D-l schools — have one teacher only, who instructs the first and 
second grades during the first two months of the school 
year and again during the last two months. During the 
intervening time these pupils have to come to school 
each Saturday for review. The other four grades re- 
ceive instruction during the whole week throughout 
the school year. 56 

It will be seen that Sweden has evolved a number of interest- 
ing methods to reduce the number of classes that a solitary teacher 
in charge of a rural school has to conduct. Of special interest 
to us is the use of the shift system. The practice of admitting fresh 
pupils every alternate year, if used with the American method 
of combining grades, will obviate the necessity of depromoting 
pupils to lower grades that arises in the case of pupils admitted in 
certain years. 

Other nations which have done good work on the problem 
and the results of whose studies have been published are Canada, 
South Africa, and New Zealand. Some work on it must also have 
been done in Asian countries like Turkey or China where the pro- 
blem is more or less acute. . Unfortunately, its results are not 
available in a published form. But as these countries have an 
environment closer to ours, their experiments would naturally 
have a greater meaning for our administration. It is a pity that, 
throughout the past, we have followed England as the only model. 
The problems of rural education in general and of single-teacher 
schools in particular have, therefore, been ignored because they 
have not much significance in an urban country like the United 
Kingdom. Now that the ties which linked us exclusively to Eng- 
land are broken, we must cultivate wider international contacts 
and seek our models in every part of the globe. If this is done and 
we study closely what countries like the U.S.A., Australia, or 
Sweden are doing to improve their single-teacher schools, the 
first steps in raising the quality of instruction in our small rural 
schools will have been taken. 

4V Schatzmann : The Country School pp. 62-3. 



With this historical and comparative background in view r 
it will now be possible to discuss some of the more important 
problems that face single-teacher schools in India. These may 
be broadly divided into two groups — administrative and peda- 
gogic. Under the first group come six major problems, viz*', (1) 
reduction in numbers ; (2) postings and transfers of teachers ; 

(3) grant of leave to teachers and appointment of substitutes in 
the leave vacancies thus caused ; (4) organisation of special 
preparation courses for teachers ; (5) restrictions on the admis- 

sion of fresh pupils ; and (6) supervision. Some suggestions 
on each of these problems have been serially offered in this sec- 

Reduction In Numbers 

Whether one accepts the American view that the single-teach- 
er school is a necessary evil or the Australian view that it is an 
integral part of school organisation which has its good as 
well as bad features, there will be general agreement on the state- 
ment that the number of single-teacher schools should be kept 
as low as possible. Some methods to achieve this end are sug- 
gested below. 

(a) Single-teacher schools in urban areas and big villages : = — It 
would be a mistake to suppose that single-teacher schools are 
found only in small villages. One. comes across them in big vil- 
lages, in towns, and even in cities. In all these areas the popu- 
lation is sufficiently large to establish only multi-teacher schools. 
For example, as many as 75 children can be enrolled in a 
school situated in a village with a population of 500 or there- 
about and it would be economically possible to appoint two 
teachers for such a school. Hence, all places with a population 
of more than 500 should ordinarily have no single-teacher school 
of any type. But we do have them even in the city of Bombay 
which has a population of about 30 lakhs. 

One of the factors responsible for the existence of such 
schools is language. It may be that the total population of 
the place is 2,000. But the number of Muslim families therein 
may be only 30 or 40 and if they want instruction for their children 
through Urdu, they will have to be provided (or they will pro- 
vide themselves) with a special school teaching through Urdu. 

This wiU*, / under the circumstances stated, be a single-teacher 
school only. Similarly, in all bi-lingual areas; there will be small 
groups of people who speak a language different from that of the 
region and who would like to conduct a special school in order 
to educate their children through their mother-tongue. Such a 
school has a legitimate claim to exist and is entitled to receive 
grants from public funds. Even if it is only a single-teacher in- 
stitution, it should be allowed to function. 

But Single-teacher schools often come into existence in bigger 
places on grounds which are not always so justifiable. Take, for 
instance, the case of private schools. One very often comes across 
a private single-teacher school— usually a proprietory concern- 
started in some locality of a big place. 57 It is ordinarily conducted 
by a person who has become a teacher by profession and who, 
by individual efforts succeeds in persuading several parents to 
send their children to his private school in preference to the public 
school in the locality. While it is necessary to encourage private 
enterprise in this field,, the State would be , justified 1 in making 
a rule to the effect that no recognition would be granted to any 
private single-teacher school teaching more than two classes in a place 
where the total population is big enough to justify die exclusive 
establishment of multi-teacher schools. 58 Such a rule would not 
prevent any individual from conducting a private school ; but it 
would compel him either to take an assistant (if he wants to teach 
the full course of the junior primary stage) or to restrict his school 
to two classes only. In both cases, the efficiency of instruction 
would be improved without endangering the growth of private 

Another common cause which leads to the establishment of 
single-teacher schools in urban or semi-urban places is the ab- 
sence of co-education. Since girls’ schools are kept apart from 
boys’ schools, and the enrolment of girls is proportionately less 
than that of boys, one often comes across hundreds of places which 
have a multi-teacher boys’ School and a single-teacher girls’ 
school. The adoption of co-education would put an end to all 
single-teacher girls’ schools in such places. Separate schools for 
girls were started about a hundred years ago when the public 
had a great prejudice against the education of girls and an even 
greater prejudice against their education with the boys. Social 

"Statistics of single-teacher schools in urban areas are not published; but 
every inspecting officer must have come across them in numbers. I found, in 
1941, 86 private school in Kolhapur City (population was nearly a lakh in total) 
of which as many as 40 were single-teacher institutions teaching at least five 
and sometimes all the eight classes of the primary course. 

‘ 8 Rougly speaking, all places with a population of 1,000 or more w&uld 
come into this category. The rural may further be generalised by saying that the 
school must maintain at least one teacher for every two classes recognised. 



conditions have greatly changed since then. Hie prejudice against 
the education of girls is almost dead ; and that against co-educa- 
tion at the primary stage is no longer seen irt urban centres and 
is dying out very fast even in rural areas. The time has, therefore, 
arrived to adopt co-education as the policy at the primary stage. 
Travancore has already introduced this reform and found it very 
advantageous. 59 

Bombay City has followed suit since 1950-51 and given the 
right approach and educative propaganda. It should be possible 
to introduce co-education in all our primary schools and also 
to appoint mixed staffs in a fairly large number of them. This 
reform would probably have a very far-reaching effect in reducing 
the numjjpr of single-teacher schools. It will, of course, have several 
other important advantages as well and one feels that it ought to 
be accorded a very high priority in our programme of educational 

Still another cause that leads to the creation of single-teacher 
schools is the absence of compulsion. This happens especially 
in villages with a population between 500 and 1,000. When at- 
tendance is voluntary, such a village usually has an enrolment 
of 30 to 50 in the local school and ordinarily only one teacher is 
appointed to conduct it. Under compulsion, attendance will rise 
to 15 or at least 121 per cent of the population, and hence all such 
villages will have an attendance of 70 or more children and can 
be given two or more teachers. The universal introduction of 
compulsion, therefore, is the surest and the most effective way 
to reduce the number of single-teacher schools in these areas. 

If the three proposals made here are adopted, single-teacher 
schools with more than two clases will cease to exist in cities, 
towns and all villages with a population of 500 or more, with 
the one exception of schools teaching through the language of 
a small minority group. This indeed would be a great achieve- 
ment because, though the number of such places is comparatively 
small, they account for' about 80 per cent of the total population 
of the country. 

(b) Single-teacher schools in villages with a population of less than 
500 Coming to villages with a population of less than 500, 
it may be stated that they will, as a rule, have single-teacher 
schools only. 60 

59 Primary Education in Travancore, Teaching, Vol. XIV, p. 125, 

€0 In villages with a population of 400 or more, the enrolment of children 
will be 60 or more if compulsion is fully enforced. But this may not be possi- 
ble for some years to come. Moreover, even if the attendance is about 60 it 
may not be always financially possible to appoint a second teacher and the 
work will have to be done by a single teacher working under the shift system. 
It would, therefore, be safer fo assume that all villages with a population of 
less than 500 would have single-teacher schools only. 

ir is in these small villages ihat the plan 0 f the “chnsdlidMed 
school was tried in India at the instance of the Hartdg Report 
The idea was to establish a central school (with at least two teach- 
ers) in selected village and then to expect the children of the small 
neighbouring villages (which could not be given a two-teacher school) 
to walk up to it every day for instruction. In actual practice, however* 
the plan did not work for the simple reason that no arrange-* 
ment for the transport of children was made. In America, where 
the plan was tried on a fairly large scale, the arrangement of trans- 
port of all children was a condition precedent to its adoption. The 
Indian administrators of education adopted the same plan ; but 
they excluded the Costly (and, in our conditions, the practically 
impossible) item of school transport, and expected the children 
of the neighbouring villages to walk to the school. This might 
have been possible if the village adults were educated and alive 
to the importance of education. But in our present conditions 
parents do not desire to send their children to schools nor are 
the children themselves eager to attend them. Consequently the 
consolidated school plan of the U.S.A. did not work in India, espe- 
cially when the idea of transporting children was left out. 

A modified form of the consolidated school plan is the sche- 
me of Branch schools invented by the Punjab State and recom- 
mended both by the Royal Commission on Agriculture and the 
Hartog Committee. The fundamental step in the plan is to select 
a conveniently situated village and to establish a central or suaze- 
rain school in it and to open branches in neighbouring villages; 
The central school is necessarily a multi-teacher school ; but the 
branch school is a single-teacher institution and teaches only the 
two lower standards. Under this plan several advantages are secm> 
ed simultaneously. The very young children are not required to 
walk long distances to reach the central school and can study for 
sometime in their own village (it is expected that grown-up boys 
and girls would attend the central school without inconvenience). 
Secondly, the teachers of single-teacher schools have to handle only 
two classes at a time and can, therefore, maintain a higher level of 
efficiency; and thirdly, the branch schools are not regarded as inde- 
pendent units but merely as parts of the central school and are 
placed directly under its control. Therefore, the constant supervi- 
sion of the central school helps materially in maintaining the tone 
of the single-teacher branches. 

As against these advantages, the proposal is objected to on the 
main ground that it creates a large number of incomplete schools 
i.e., schools which provide a course whose duration is shorter than 
four years. It is common knowledge that such schools do not im- 
part permanent literacy and that those of its students who do not 
pursue their studies elsewhere (generally they do not) are vefy 



likely to forget the little they learned in their early years. A drive 
to eliminate the incomplete schools is also recommended as a me- 
thod of reducing waste and it appears that, under the plan of branch 
schools, we fall into one evil — and that a more serious one — while 
avoiding another. The remedy, therefore, seems to be worse than 
the disease. 

The Punjab gave this experiment a very generous trial. The 
Hartog Committee proudly pointed out that the Punjab had as 
many as 2,707 schools of this type 61 . But the experiment did not 
succeed and had ultimately to be given up* 3 . The enthusiasm with 
which the Hartog Committee recommended this idea, therefore, is 
no Ipnger shared and it would be wrong to rely on it as a method 
of eliminating single-teacher schools. 

Probably, the only useful application of plan would be to pro- 
vide upper primary education to small Villages. It may not be pos- 
sible to create facilities for teaching the full primary course (which 
would require a school with two or preferably, three teachers) in 
all villages for a very long time to come. The expansion drive for 
the next few years, therefore, should aim at providing a school 
teaching the junior primary course (of four or five years as the 
case may be) in every village; and facilities for the upper primary 
course of three years should be provided at central schools located 
in carefully selected villages in such a manner that a school teach- 
ing the upper primary standards would be available within about 
three miles of every village. Under such a system, every primary 
school would teach the junior primary course in full and impart 
permanent literacy, while “consolidation” would be tried for the 
upper primary stage only 63 . We might even go a step further and 
regard such full-grade primary school as the Central School and 
give it some control over the neighbouring schools teaching the 
junior course, which may be considered as its branches. Barring 
the useful but limited application which is rather beside the point 
in considering the problems of single-teacher schools, the branch 
school idea has nothing to contribute to the solution of the educa- 
tional problems of rural India. 

“Report, p. 73. 

“In 1944-45, the latest pre-partition year for which data are available, the 
number of these schools stood only at 391 ( Director of Public Instruction’s 
Report, 1944-45, p. 4). 

#3 This is analogous to the Australian practice where every school teaches 
the full primary course and consolidation is adopted for the secondary stage 

It is possible to reduce the number of single-teacher schools 
required for small villages with a population of less than 500 by 
adopting two devices. The first is the holding of educational sur- 
veys. Although these were recommended as early as 1912“ very few 
States have carried them out. They will enable the Department to 
plan schools properly over the countryside and to eliminate over- 
lapping or superfluous institutions. It is, therefore, desirable that 
every State should carry out educational surveys of its area as early 
as possible. 

The second device is the radical proposal of some planners to 
amalgamate the small villages themselves so as to form bigger units 
with a population of 500 or more. The group of thinkers who ad- 
vocate this view, point out that each of these small villages wants not 
only a school teaching the full primary course (and hence having 
at least two teachers), but a drinking water well, an approach 
road, medical and veterinary aid, .police protection, etc. If the re- 
curring and non-recurring cost of providing all these amenities 
on an adequate scale is worked out, they find that the financial 
implications are exhorbitant and that it would be cheaper to lift 
up some small villages from their present location and to amalga- 
mate them with others by constructing all the additional houses 
required at State cost. 

This is a rational but a very radical approach; and like all at- 
tempts at oversimplification, it will not be carried out for several years 
to come. In die meanwhile, the educationist must take realistic 
steps along three lines to meet the educational needs of the small 
villages whose population is less than 500: (1) he should hold 
educational surveys and decide the number of and location of all 
primary schools required to meet the needs of every village, but 
planned in such a manner as to avoid all overlapping; (2) he should 
locate a single-teacher school teaching the full junior course at 
every centre indicated in the survey; and (3) at a few selected cen- 
tres which will be within three miles of every village, he should 
establish a full-grade primary school. (This will have a staff of not 
less than two teachers irrespective of the number of pupils.) Even 
this three-fold programme will be work enough for the next ten 

Posting and Transfers of Teachers 

Another important administrative problem is the postings and 
transfers of teachers to these small rural schools. It is generally 
agreed in theory that the work in a single-teacher school is, in 
several ways, more difficult than that in a multi-teacher school. 
It is, therefore, essential to place the former under trained, capable 

: 1 : 1 3 ‘ 

“Quinquennial Review of the Progress of Education in India, 1907-12, 

Vol. I. 



*nd conscientious teachers. But in practice, this does not ordi- 
narily happen, The single-teacher schools are generally situated 
in small scattered villages which are difficult of access and where 
arnenities of life like a bazar, post-office, good drinking water 
and medical aid are often not available. Teachers are, therefore, 
generally unwilling to serve in these schools. Moreover, the number 
of trained, capable, and conscientious teachers is small and the 
bigger full-fledged primary schools have a prior claim on them. 
Consequently, it is usually the untrained and the junior teacher 
that happens to be posted to a single-teacher school; and very 
often, a recalcitrant teacher is transferred to it as a form of punish- 
ment. Under these conditions, it is hardly a matter for surprise if 
the quality of work turned out in single-teacher schools is general- 
ly poor. 

The real solution to the problem is to increase the percentage 
of trained teachers to the maximum. State Governments should 
accept the principle that no primary teacher should be confirmed 
in service until he is trained; and they should take steps to in- 
crease the number of training institutions so that every new recruit 
to the cadre of primary teachers would either have been trained 
already or can be sent in for training within three to four years 
from the date of his appointment. If this reform is carried out 
and if the recruitment to the cadre is carefully made — this may 
involve a radical alteration in our present system of recruiting 
primary teachers and some reduction in the powers of local bodies 
in the matter — it will be possible to place single-teacher schools 
mostly under trained and capable teachers. In the meanwhile, 
the administering authorities should try to make the best of a bad 
situation and see that single-teacher schools are placed, as far 
as possible, under the charge of trained, or at least, conscientious 
teachers. Where it is not possible to do so for some reason the 
deficiency may be made up, to some extent at least, by arranging 
short refresher courses or by providing a closer supervision over 
the work of the teachers. 

Two useful suggestions can be made in this context. The 
first is based on the analogy of a rule which already obtains in 
railway service. The climate of some of the railway stations is so 
bad that hardly any person is willing to go there as a Station 
Master. A rule is, therefore, laid down that every Station Master 
must put in* a minimum specified service (usually of two years or 
so) at such bad climate stations. This is a practicable joint-family 
method of making every member of the cadre share -a necessary 
evil, and it works quite well in practice. We might, on a similar 
basis, lay it down that every trained teacher must put in three or 
five years’ service in a single-teacher school. This will eliminate 
a good deal of heart-burning that is now caused when a trained 4 
teacher is transferred to a single-teacher school and it will alsd 

obviate the necessity of keeping some trained but unwilling teach- 
ers indefinitely posted to single-teacher schools. This is admittedly 
a provisional device; but it will be useful at this stage when only 
about half the teachers are trained. 66 The second suggestion is 

that transfers should not be regarded as a form of punishment 
A recalcitrant teacher, needs better supervision and he may be 
less harmful as an assistant in a multi-teacher school, than as the 
sole boss of a single-teacher school. He might be punished in any 
manner for his recalcitrance — by censure, fine, reduction in pay, 
or even dismissal; but the practice of transferring him to a single- 
teacher school at an out-of-the-way place should never be adopted. 

Grant of Leave 

The problem of leave becomes particularly acute in single- 
teacher schools. In a multi-teacher school, even if one or two 
teachers go on leave, the work of the absentees is distributed bet- 
ween the other members of the staff and the school is not required 
to be closed. But in a single-teacher school, if the teacher goes 
on leave, the institution just comes to a standstill. A detailed scheme 
for the grant of leave to the teachers in charge of these small 
schools and for the appointment of substitutes in the leave va- 
cancies so caused has, therefore, to be worked out for the use of 

The general procedure on the subject appears to be some- 
what like this : casual leave to the teacher is sanctioned by the 

Chairman of the local school committee; and other kinds of leave 
are sanctioned by a higher official — generally the Chief Execu- 
tive Officer of the School Board or Committee employing him — 
who can also appoint a substitute to take charge of the school in 
the leave vacancy. In practice, however, these arrangements 
break down very often. In several places, there is no local school 
committee at all; or even if there is one, it does not function satis- 
factorily. In such instances, the teacher is a law unto himself. 
A common trick practised by an unscrupulous teacher is to write 
a report saying that he has to proceed on leave on account of un- 
avoidable circumstances, to leave it in the school, and then to 
go away on an “unofficial leave”. If any officer turns up in his 
absence, he is shown the report. If no one does, the teacher tears 
out the report on return and fills in a bogus attendance as if he 
was on duty. 

The best way to avoid such irregularities is to set up an active 
school committee or at least to have an active Chairman. But this 
is not always possible. And even if it were, it would only legalise 

* 6 In Australia, there is a rule that every primary teacher must serve for 
some time in rural areas, which generally means in a single-teacher school. 
Teachers protest and, officials though not always unfeeling, are adament in 
the application of the rule, videP . R. Cole : op. cit., p. 10. 


the teacher’s absence. It would not be possible for the controlling 
authorities to appoint a substitute when the teacher is on ^casual 
leave and in all such cases therefore the school would per force 
have to be closed. The monitorial system if adopted can solve 
the problem to some extent; in the short absence of the teacher, 
the monitors can be expected to run the school in a manner which 
would certainly be better than keeping it closed. But we have 
abandoned the system once and cannot see our way to readapt 
it. In this particular instance, however, it must be noted that the 
monitorial system is the only possible solution to the problem. 

A still greater difficulty is caused when the teacher has to 
proceed on long leave with short or no notice. It is true that teach- 
ers are required to express their intention of going on long leave 
well in advance; but this is not always done and sometimes, 
it is not even possible. When such an emergency arises, great 
delays are caused in appointing a substitute because the official 
making the appointment has to follow a prescribed procedure. 
Some time is lost before the news of the teacher’s absence 
reaches headquarters; then the office red tape must take its 
time and sooner or later an order of appointment is issued to a 
candidate from the approved list. Some more time is lost before 
the candidate gets the order and joins his post Sometimes he 
chooses not to join; then the order has to be sent to another can- 
didate; and so on until somebody turns up at the school. Not 
infrequently, the leave expires and the teacher himself joins 
up at the school before any substitute can do so. And all this 
while the school remains closed for lack of a teacher. 

It must be made clear that the evil is not imaginary but real. 
A pilot survey carried out for one year in six districts of Bombay 
State showed that more than 10 per cent of the single-teacher 
schools had remained closed at some time or the other because the 
teacher went on leave and a substitute was not appointed in 
time; that no substitute was generally appointed (or could be 
appointed) if the duration of the leave was less than 30 days; 
and that several schools had remained closed for longer than 
a month owing to difficulties of the type mentioned above. The 
situation has, therefore, to be taken note of and remedied. 

One proposal, made after a careful statistical investigation 
carried out in Bombay State is this : The single-teacher schools 

in a district should be divided into convenient groups of 18 to 
25. A big primary school, central to this group, should be selected 
as the controlling school and an extra relieving teacher should 
be attached thereto. Whenever a teacher of a single-teacher 
school proceeds on leave of more than seven days’ duration, he 
informs the headmaster of the controlling school who at once 
sends the relieving teacher to take charge of the school and then 
sends the papers to the headquarters for formal orders. Under 

this arrangement, the chances of a single-teacher school remaining 
closed are reduced to the minimum and prompt action in sending 
a substitute is made possible. The only drawback is that it needs 
a reserve of relieving teachers at five per cent of the total number 
of single-teacher schools. The financial implications of this pro- 
posal are rather formidable and it does not have much chance 
of being accepted by the State Governments in the present condi- 
tions of financial stringency. 

Shri S. R. Tawde. a retired Educational Inspector in the Bom- 
bay State, has tried an interesting experiment to meet this 
difficulty without involving additional expenditure. He grouped 
all schools within a radius of five or six miles into one 
unit and placed them under the direct control of the headmaster 
of a conveniently selected central school. Whenever the teacher in 
charge of a single-teacher school in the group desired to go on 
leave, he was required to get the permission of this headmaster. He 
could easily do so because he lived within a convenient distance 
of the controlling school. If the duration,, of the leave exceeded 
seven days, the headmaster immediately sent one of his assistants 
to conduct the single-teacher schools. The central school was 
short of one teacher : but as it was a multi-teacher school, the 
work could somehow be managed. As soon as a substitute was ap- 
pointed by the Head Office and joined duties, the teacher of the 
central school resumed his own post. In this plan, all the extra .fin- 
ancial burden involved in the former proposal is avoided and the 
work of the single-teacher school, is kept going by shifting the in- 
convenience to a neighbouring multi-teacher school which can over- 
come it more easily. The plan also makes it possible to control the 
teachers of single-teacher schools when no efficient local school 
committee can be set up to supervise its work. The experiment is 
really full of potentialities and deserves wide recognition and pub- 

Training of Teachers 

Whether the teachers of these small rural schools need any 
special training for their job is another issue that arises in this con- 
text. Unfortunately, the problem has so far received scant attention 
in India. Most of our training colleges for primary teachers are 
situated in urban areas, and hence the trainees never get an oppor- 
tunity to see a model single-teacher school in action of to practise 
in it. Moreover, the method of training usually adopted in these 
colleges is to make the trainee give a number of isolated practice 
lessons. This is suitable for multi-teachef school where a teacher 
is in charge of one class at a time of where the teaching is ar- 
ranged subject-wise, but is of hardly any use in a single-teacher 
school. The special methods required to be adopted in a single- 
teacher school are not at all included in the curricula of training 



institutions of several States, and the subject is totally neglected. 
In others, the topic is included in the curriculum but its actual 
teaching often becomes theoretical and unreal and is restricted 
to a few lectures of a hackneyed type. It would, therefore, be no 
exaggeration to say that the average teacher who comes out of our 
training institutions is generally ignorant of the special methods to 
be adopted in single-teacher schools or is incapable of using them 
successfully. This is a matter which needs immediate attention. 

That the teachers of the small rural schools need special train- 
ing for their job is a statement which is hardly likely to be dis- 
puted at present. The discussion of the problem may, therefore, 
be confined only to a description of the methods of such training. 
As a rule, it is attempted in two ways. The first is that of pre- 
service training. Since 50 per cent of our schools are single-teacher 
institutions, it is quite probable that more than half of our teach- 
ers will have to serve in single-teacher schools for some part of 
their service. It is, therefore, suggested that the special techniques 
to be adopted in single-teacher schools should form an integral 
part of the curriculum of every training institution for primary 
teachers. Every teacher under training should be required to do 
continuous practice teaching in a single-teacher school for a period 
of not less than a week. As far as possible, training colleges should 
be shifted to rural areas and be provided with actual single-teacher 
schools for practice purposes; and even when a college is situated 
in urban area, one or more specially created single-teacher schools 
should always be conducted in association with it. 

Even these measures will not be enough to meet the require- 
ments of the situation. For the exigencies of administration, se- 
veral persons who have not been to the training college will have 
to be posted to single-teacher schools; and even those who have 
been trained in the past are not likely to have received any special 
training for the purpose. It would, therefore, be necessary to 
conduct short refresher or training courses for such teachers just 
before the opening of the school year. The duration of the course 
should be for 15 days. The first five days should be given to general 
discussion and lectures. For the next seven days each trainee 
should be required to do whole-time practice-teaching, under super- 
vision, in a single-teacher school; and the last three days should 
be spent in gathering threads, comparing notes and summing-up. 
Every teacher who has been posted to a single-teacher school for 
the first time should be compelled to attend the course. For train- 
ed teachers, one attendance would be enough ; but untrained tea- 
chers should be required to attend the courses for two or three 
consecutive years. The organisation of such courses will not be 
costly and their returns in terms of improving the efficiency of 
the single-teacher school s cannot be oyer-estimated. 

Restrictions on Fresh Admissions 

Fresh admissions to the lowest primary class should be made in 
the first one or two months of the school year so that the class be- 
comes homogeneous and shows better progress. This rule is essen- 
tial for all primary schools; but it is not enforced in several large 
areas even today. As the review of Education in India (1917-22) 
pointed out, the lowest class thus gets sub-divided into a number 
of further units depending upon the progress of children, and the 
work of the teacher becomes all the more difficult. Therefore, in 
the single-teacher schools at any rate, a scrupulous observation of 
this rule is very essential. 


The problem of supervision over the single-teacher schools 
also presents some peculiar difficulties. The first point to be noted 
is the need of making it adequate. Under the present conditions, 
an inspecting officer has to manage about 60 or more schools and 
he can, therefore, see each single-teacher school twice only in the 
course of a year — once for inspection and once for a visit. This 
can hardly be regarded as adequate, especially when an untrained 
teacher is in charge. A better alternative, therefore, is to adopt the 
central school idea and to make its headmaster the supervisor of 
all the single-teacher schools in his charge. He will then be able to 
visit them once a quarter, and whenever necessary, even to call the 
teachers to his school for demonstration lessons, discussions, etc. 
The supervision would thus be closer, better and even more econo- 
mical because the allowance to be paid to the headmaster would 
be much less than the salary and allowances of the whole-time Ins- 
pector. Here is one more reason, therefore, to adopt the scheme 
of central schools as an integral part of the administration of rural 


In the previous chapter some of {he administrative problems 
facing the single-teacher schools were discussed and suggestions for 
solving the same made. The present chapter is devoted to the 
consideration of another group of problems which may be charac- 
terised as ‘Pedagogic’. These will arise from two fundamental issues : 
the classification of the pupils into grades and the division of the 
curriculum into subjects . The solitary primary teacher in India 
has to manage four or five grades at a time and each grade has 
to be instructed in about eight or nine subjects. This is of course 
a difficult task, but certainly not impossible as our administrators 
under the dyarchy wanted us to believe. As we have seen single 
teachers in charge of small rural schools in other countries have 
to perform a more difficult task viz., to manage seven or eight 
grades at a time and to teach a, syllabus which is even more ex- 
tensive than ours. If that job can be done well it ought to be all 
the more possible for our teachers to manage four or five grades 
at a time and to teach a less ambitious syllabus. All that we need 
is a new approach to the problem in the light of the experience 
gained abroad. 

Combination of Grades 

Of the different suggestions that can be put forward to lighten 
the burden of the solitary teacher by reducing the number of grades 
he is required to teach, the simplest would be the combination of 
grades so commonly adopted in the U.S.A. Where the total number 
of grades to be taught is five, grade I should be left as it is; grade 
II should be combined with grade III; and grade IV with grade V. 
Thus the total number of classes that a teacher would have to 
manage will be three instead of five. If there are only four grades 
to be taught, grades I and II should be combined together and so 
also grades III and IV, Thus, the teacher will have to manage 
only two classes at a time. Fresh students may either be admitted 
every year and alternated in the combined grades on the American 
model; or the Swedish model may be adopted and fresh admission 
may be made in every alternate year only”. 

M In this case, the combinations for a five-grade school' would be : grades 
I and II; grades III and IV; and grade V. The highest grade will not exist in 
alternate years. The teacher will thus have three different classes in one year 
and only two in the next. 

41 :.. , 

Although every consideration is in 
several administrators, teachers and parents react unfavourably to 
the idea and are unwilling to accept it as a general "modus operandT 
in our rural schools. This is not surprising. Most of our educators 
are urban in habit and outlook. Their idea of rural uplift is to 
make villages into “lesser towns”, and they feel that the classifi- 
cation of pupils into grades which has been good for education in 
the cities must also be good for rural education. It is necessary, 
therefore, to examine the pros and cons of the proposal in some 

For this purpose, a study of the controversies that once raged 
in the U.S.A. will be helpful. It must be remembered that, even in 
America, the plans to combine and alternate grades were not 
readily accepted. Of the various objections raised, two only are 
important and may be mentioned here. The first is the adminis- 
trative objection regarding the transfer and promotion of pupils, 
i.e., the difficulties that might arise when the pupils of such schools 
are transferred, during the course, to an urban or rural school 
where the usual grades are followed. The objection is particularly 
valid in areas where migration to urban localities is very large. 
Detailed statistical investigations, however, show that the diffi- 
culty is not so serious as some opponents make it out to be. Miss 
Heyl, State Supervisor of Rural Schools, Albany, New York, for 
example, found that transfers in rural areas tended towards schools 
of the same size and type and, therefore, felt that the problem 
was a local matter to be decided in the light of local conditions. 67 
This objection, therefore, is not entertained very seriously and has 
lost its ground. Many schools are already making the necessary 
adjustments through objective tests, and each transfer and place- 
ment is regarded as an individual matter to be decided on its 
own merits. 

The second, and a far stronger criticism, comes from the con- 
servative educationists who believe the “grade” to be so sacro- 
sanct as to be regarded almost as a law of nature. They find it 
difficult to digest such steps as the child makes from grade VI 
to grade VIII in one year and thence to grade IX in the next, 
and argue that such antics interfere with the child’s development. 

Fannie Dunn has met this criticism by pointing out that the 
organisation of subject-matter as this has been set up to fit condi- 
tions in elementary schools is not the only one possible. History 
courses, for instance, can choose an arbitrary point of departure — 
Romulus and Remus or the Discovery of America — and can deal 
with subjects chosen chronologically or otherwise. Similarly, ma- 
thematical processes can be shuffled and Fractions taught before 
Long Division. 

* 7 Kate V. Wofford : op. cit. p. 90. 

4—7 M. of Edu./63 


Even this objection, therefore, lost its ground educationally. 
People soon began to realise that the organisation of the curri- 
culum into eight grades was merely an arrangement to suit a 
particular situation and that there is no objection to abandon 
it if a different set of circumstances demanded such a reform. 

It is also interesting to note that a study of the historical 
aspect of the problem revealed a surprising phenomenon. It 
appears that the system of “grading” pupils was introduced into 
single-teacher schools from urban precedents with the original ob- 
ject of reducing the work of the teacher; but that, contrary to all 
expectations, resulted only in increasing his work to a point of im- 

Miss Wofford’s 'Teaching in Small Schools' records interesting 
experiences in this connection. It was a common practice in the 
eighteen-nineties for children to find their places in the school 
organisation by reading ability, and if asked in what class they 
were, would reply : “I am in the III Reader” or “I am in the 

V Reader”. Teachers taught from early in the morning till late 
in the evening, but had not heard all the recitations. A uniform 
system of textbooks and grading was adpoted in both urban and 
rural schools. 

While the grading system was reasonably well suited to the 
need to group large numbers of children in urban schools, it was 
a failure from the start in rural schools. Said W.T. Harris : “In 

my opinion there is no worse evil in the country school than the 
classification of pupils which is attempted in many States under 
the supposition that what is proved a good thing in the city would 
be beneficial...... in the rural districts”. 

In spite of this and other protests the rural teacher in 1910 
found himself teaching in a school graded after the manner of 
city schools and using courses of study made for urban situations. 
The grades so planned were for a^eight or nine-months school 
term and for the teacher with frodHtone to two grades. Result : 
The teacher found himself strugglinjjpvith a situation as difficult 
as that prior to the grading of schools. He was teaching a group of 
children ranging in age from six to 18, and in learning from A.B.C. 
to Caesar. His day became one long succession of hearing lessons 
and his teaching, a deadly routine. Indeed, problems of organisa- 
tion in the small school had multiplied, not diminished, under the 
grade system. 

A close study of Wofford’s book shows that the “grade” was 
a peculiarly urban concept; that it was a fundamental error to 
impose grades upon single-teacher schools; that most of the soli- 
tary te r cher’s troubles arose from imposition of “too many grades 
and many subjects” ; and that the disappearance of the 
“grade ^N^vas to be welcomed rather than oposed. As such ideas 


gained ctifrenby, the programmes of combining padbs became more 
and more acceptable to the teachers and the public. In 1922, Rei- 
noehl found, in an analysis of 44 State Courses of Study, that 73 
per cent of them recommended the Combination and Alternation 
of Grades Plan for small schools. 8 * 

The narrative of the American controversies shows the pros 
and cons of the proposal very clearly and leads to the conclusion 
that educationally, it would be a great advantage to the single- 
teacher schools in India if the number of classes to be taught si- 
multaneously is halved by combination of two consecutive classes 
into one. The proposal is subject only to the limited, administrative 
objection of the difficulties that would arise when a pupil is trans- 
ferred^ in the middle of the course, to a properly graded school. 

Plural-Class Teaching 

Another and a less radical proposal is to adopt plural-class 
teaching and to keep the grades as they are. This rules out the 
administrative objection raised against the combination of grades 
and does not arouse the hostility of the orthodox parent or teacher. 
But even when the grades are kept intact as in any urban school, 
it is possible to teach two or more classes simultaneously in certain 

This method of plural-class teaching is well developed in 
Australia. In Tasmania t for example, the curriculum of the small 
rural schools is so arranged that it lends itself to grouping pf grades 
in certain subjects. “Each grade is taken separately in Reading, 
Spelling, Arithmetic and Needlework, and all grades are taken 
together for Physical Training, Singing, Scripture and Moral 
Lessons. There are two school groups in Nature Study. Drawing 
and Manual Work, and three school groups in Language Lessons, 
Poetry, History, Geography and Geometrical Work.” 4 * 

In South Australia “each grade is taken separately in Spelling, 
Writing, Arithmetic and Manual Work, and all grades are com- 
bined for Physical Training, Music, Nature Study, Needlework and 
Moral Lessons. There are five school groups in Reading, three in 
Geography, Language and Poetry and two in Drawing, History 
and Grammar”. 4 * In Victoria “ each grade is taken separately in 
Arithmetic and Spelling and all grades are taken together in Music. 
There are two school groups in Speech Training, Health and Phy- 
sical Training, three in Writing, Poetry, Grammar, Nature Study 
and Science, Hand Work, Domestic Science, and Social Studies, 

"Kate V. Wofford : p. 83. 

«*P. R. Cole : op. cit. pp., 136-38. 



four in Composition and Art and five in Reading*.* in New South 
Wales “the rural school is divided into two sections. Each class in 
each section works more or less independently in English and 
Arithmetic. Grades are combined in each section for Nature Know- 
ledge, History, Art, Handwork, Singing, Hygiene and Scripture and 
the two sections may be combined for observation and picture talks, 
physical exercises and moral stories*. 69 But in all these States it is 
made clear that there is no intention to prescribe rigid grouping 
schemes. The suggestions made in the official curriculum which 
are summarised above are to be regarded as tentative and modifi- 
cations to meet local needs are not only permitted but encouraged 
as well.** 

Similar combinations can easily be worked out for India as 
well. Each State would have to work out the details for itself. It 
would serve no purpose to leave the work to the primary teachers 
because they would have neither the vision nor the capacity to do 
it at the initial stage . The lead in the matter must, therefore, come 
from more competent sources, i.e., the research sections of Uni- 
versities, Education Departments or other organisations working 
at that level. Once the idea becomes familiar and is brought large- 
ly into vogue some primary teachers will be able to contribute 
valuable suggestions from their practical experience and to ad- 
vance the cause. Here is, therefore, a very attractive method which 
India can easily adopt to improve its single-teacher schools. 

Monitorial System 

The third suggestion to improve the teaching in the single- 
teacher schools is to revive the old system of monitorial teaching. 
It may not be revived in the same form. In fact, the form is the 
least important part of the system and any of its form which suits 
modern conditions could be adopted. This is really our system and 
is eminently suited to the needs of a poor, rural, and agricultural 
country like ours. We gave it to the West and it was a grievous 
administrative error to abandon it under a lead from an urban, 
industrialised and rich country like England. We must, therefore, 
re-adopt it because it has the power to make our single-teacher 
schools much better than they are at present. 

As stated earlier, the system is still in vogue in Australia and 
the Australian experience of its working is very encouraging. An 
enquiry into the subject within the State of Victoria and New 
South Wales was conducted by Messrs. J. M. Braithwaite, 

M P. R. Cole : op. dt., pp. 136-38. 

Inspector of Schools in New South Wales, and C. R. McRae, 
Senior Lecturer in Education, Teachers’ College, Sydney. They 
raised two main issue for discussion, viz. 

(1) What is the attitude of teachers towards the system? 

(2) What good or bad effects does it have on the pupils? 

On the first issue they found that the majority of teachers in 
New South Wales had monitors but that they were used only 
for such duties as filling ink-wells, decorating the school, cleaning 
of the play-shed, and giving out textbooks and other materials. 
Only one teacher was enthusiastic about teaching monitors. ‘‘With- 
out monitors” he wrote, “the lot of the small-school’ teacher would 
be almost unbearable.” 70 But the teachers of Victoria were very 
strongly in support of the system. “Almost all of them”, write 
the investigators, “have nothing but praise for the use of monitors, 
and even the few who regret the time lost by the child from his 
own class regard that loss as inevitable. Their opinion is expressed 
plainly in the three following sentences cuffed from the batch of 
returns : 

‘It would be impossible to run this type of school without 

‘Their use is an essential aid to the successful organisation of a 
one-teacher school.’ 

‘Monitors must be used in a one-teacher school in which all 
the grades are presented.’ 71 

On the second issue, too, they found that the monitorial sys- 
tem was good, not only for the teachers but also for the pupils. 
“No one who has seen one of Victoria’s small country schools at 
work, could fail to be impressed by the value of the monitorial 
system as it is used in that State. It certainly enables the head tea- 
cher to do more and better work. Without it, his services would 
often be spread so thin as to be of little avail. It ensures that the 
youngest pupils will have, almost constantly, the guidance without 
which they would waste much time. Best of all, perhaps, it deve- 
lops in the small school a spirit of cooperation and a feeling of 
partnership in a well-conducted concern which are rarely to be 
observed in any other kind of school. To illustrate its value, a 
few lines from one of our Victorian returns are worth quoting* 

‘I have seen rural children, aged nine to 14 years, take a keen 
delight in making wall-charts in their home time for grades I and 
II. Children living near the school need to be almost forced to go 

10 P. I . Cole : op. cit. pp. 208. 

n P. /. Cole : pp. 204-05. 

5—7 M. of Edu./63 


home in the evening, so enthusiastic are their efforts to prepare aids 
for their monitorial duties. 

‘A healthier relationship frequently develops between brothers 
and sisters from the monitorial system. Older boys and girls learn 
the superior value of persuasion and sympathy over hectoring and 
force. The younger ones feel that they can better rely on the judg- 
ment of their senior brothers and sisters. 

‘From the view-point of life-service, of being valuable mem- 
bers of a corporate society, the monitorial system lays foundations 
as secure as they are essential, on which altruism may safely flour- 
ish. From junior to supplementary departments, first as being mi- 
nistered to and then as ministering the child feels gropes his way 
along. He acquires the virtue of obedience, that will later enable 
him to command, pleasantly, persuasively, productively. He leaves 
school realising that he has contributed to the process of educating 
a generation. 

‘And if he is not consciously aware of this, it cannot be denied 
that he has contributed. His reach has exceeded his grasp : he 

has done without being aware of doing.’ 

It will be noted that this teacher writes of his young assistants 
feelingly, and with enthusiasm. We are of the opinion that he does 
so on good grounds”.* 

It will, therefore, be seen that the system is good for the teacher 
as well as the pupil and no difficulties should, therefore, be allowed 
to come in the way of its revival in India. 

There are various aspects of the monitorial system that need 
a careful study, viz , , selection and training of monitors, determina- 
tion of the duties to be assigned to them and the manner of super- 
vising their work. Valuable lessons in these matters learnt from the 
practice of Victoria are given in Appendix A. 


Preparation of good time-tables is a frequent headache of the 
solitary rural teacher. Thq* usual principles of constructing time- 
tables are so exacting that it is quite a job to prepare a good time- 
table even for a school which has a teacher for each division. In 
the case of the solitary teacher, these difficulties are further increas- 
ed. He has to see that his time is equitably divided between the 
different grades or classes; that every group is kept fully occupi- 
ed all the time; that adequate attention is given to every subject; 
and that the time-table is not upset by the method of plural-class 
teaching which will very frequently have to be adopted. Moreover, 
he has not only to indicate what a particular period is but also 
to state how it would be managed, i.e,, whether the teacher himself 
would take it, or whether the pupils would be left to work on 

*Ibid y op. cit. pp. 207-208. 


their own, or whether a monitor would be present. It is, therefore, 
essential to train the teachers of these small schools to prepare 
scientific and convenient time-tables. A specimen time-table from 
an Australian single-teacher school is given in Appendix B. 

Shift System 

Still another useful device to reduce the number of classes 
which the teacher of a single-teacher school has to handle at a 
time is to adopt the shift system. In a scheme where the primary 
course consists of four classes the adoption of the shift system 
would mean that the teacher has to handle only two classes at a 
time a comparatively simple affair. It would be very interesting to 
find out whether the children studying under such a plan learn less 
than those where the teacher teaches all four classes at a time. 
The chances are that, in so far as the achievements of the pupils 
are concerned, the two systems would just be equal in results; and 
the shift system would have the additional advantage of making 
the task of the teacher lighter. It may be noted that the enrolment 
in a single-teacher school is bound to vary, according to local cir- 
cumstances, from 15 to 20 to about 50 or 60. When it is on the high 
side and anywhere above 30-35, the shift system would be invaluable 
and perhaps indispensable. 

liiividttl Iitatructioa 

The large variety of new methods of teaching that a teacher 
in charge of a small rural school can adopt may be inferred from 
two extreme examples. At one end, he can defy all grades and 
all subjects and just give individual instruction to each child. This 
is especially possible when the total enrolment is small, say 15 or 20. 
In the old indigenous schools, this was the order of the day; and 
there is no reason why it should not be adopted in some at’ least 
of our single-teacher schools. 

Perpendicular Unit 

At the other end, he can still defy all grades and subjects and 
engage the whole school on a common project. How skilfully it 
can be done may be seen from the following project worked out 
by the solitary teacher of a small rural school in Switzerland: 

“In September 1938 the writer visited a school in Forel, in 
the Canton of Vaud called Pont de Pierre. It was a typical one- 
teacher school. About 35 boys and girls, ranging in age from six 
to 14 were busily working. The teacher was an alert young man 
full of initiative. The displays in the schoolroom gave evidence 
that no monotony ruled the lessons. The children had made all 
sorts of maps, charts and, current-event newsbooks, as well as free- 
hand drawings and paintings. In one corner they had a museum 
of natural science, in another corner a library, and in a third 



corner a collection of national products. When the writer entered the 
school, two fifth-graders were observed standing in the back of the 
room discussing a map they had been drawing and painting. Conver- 
sation with them revealed the following story : 

“In the summer of 1939 the city of Zurich was to hold a Swiss 
National Exhibition, an event which takes place every twenty-five 
years. The children were planning their trip to the Exhibition. All 
pupils were to go except the first and second-graders. While the 
older youngsters studied the more intricate aspects of the journey, 
such as the important monuments to visit, things worth seeing at 
the exhibition, amount and wise distribution of time necessary for 
the entire trip, expenses involved, and other languages likely to be 
known, the fifthrgraders were discussing various means of transpor- 
tation and were determining what distance could be covered by foot. 
These semi-mountain youngsters wanted to use as many kinds of 
travel conveyances as possible for not one of them had ever been 
on a bus, a boat, or a fast train. They were eager to get maximum 
results out of this eventful experience. 

“They planned to leave the village on foot so that the little 
ones could go part of the way with them; next, they would climb 
over the nearby pass and later take a train to the shore of Lake 
Thun. Here they would transfer to a boat. Once on the other shore 
they would hike across a second pass and take a bus to Zurich. 
The return journey was to be routed differently. Not only did the 
pupils know the necessary time and cost involved but they had start- 
ed to save money and were studying the history of the cantons 
through which they were to pass, the various costumes formerly 
worn by the people there, and the languages spoken. The pictures 
they had collected of Swiss costumes were remarkable. While at 
Zurich the young travellers expected to sleep in one of the city 
schools held open for this purpose, since the city children would be 
on summer vacation at that time. It can readily be seen that the 
teacher had enough curriculum material on hand to last a year. 
The children asked if they might sing one of the songs they had 
learnt for the trip. The teacher gave them permission, and after he 
had given them the pitch with the help of a tuning fork, the whole 
group sang with well-trained voices a four-part song”.* 

This method of making the whole school work on a common 
project or unit of study has been greatly developed in America. 
It has even received a special name — the perpendicular unit — which 
is an indication of its consistent popularity. 

*/. E. Schatzmam : The Country School, pp. 14-15. 

If such units are possible in schools of eight grades, they ought 
certainly to be possible in Indian single-teacher schools where 
the number does not exceed five. The only pity is that we have 
not been able to give the subject all the attention it needs and de- 


In view of the various teaching devices suggested above for 
adoption in the single-teacher schools, a pertinent question is neces- 
sarily raised, viz., whether or not a separate curriculum should be 
designed for them. In India hardly any thought has been given 
to the problem; and probably the only attempt ever made in the 
matter was the publication, in 1940, of a simplified Curriculum for 
single-teacher schools, by the Government of Bombay. No principle 
other than that of simplification or reduction of content was ap- 
parently adopted in designing this course; but in actual practice, 
it was hardly ever adopted by single-teacher schools so that all 
schools continued to use the same common syllabus. Notwithstand- 
ing this solitary exception of little value, it may be said that in 
India, the State Governments have prepared the curriculum pri- 
marily for urban schools and left the solitary teacher of the rural 
school to grapple with it as best as he can. 

This policy has two fundamental defects. Firstly, it ignores the 
fact that the single-teacher school has large handicaps as compared 
with the urban school, and that it cannot be rightly expected to 
show the same results especially because the attendance of a rural 
child is far less regular than that of an urban one. Secondly, it 
refuses to note that “the teacher in the small rural school is not 
prepared by education or experience to perform the technical task 
of re-organising the curriculum materials provided in the average 
course of study”. 74 The recent trend in rural education, therefore, 
is to issue separate and detailed courses for use in single-teacher 
schools; or if that were not possible, to issue detailed instructions 
regarding the manner in which the general course would have to be 
adopted to meet the needs of small rural schools. India also will 
have to adopt either of these policies — preferably the first — at a 
very early date. 

What the content of such a separate course for single-teacher 
schools should be is the next question. Prima facie , it would appear 
that it should be smaller and simpler. But the general tendency 
abroad is to resist any attempt at simplification on the ground that 
it implies the inferiority of single-teacher schools and that it sets 
the rural child at a disadvantage and vitiates the principle of 
“equality of educational opportunity”. This is clearly seen in Aus- 
tralia. Here a specific objective of the Government is to see that a 

1A Kate K. Woof or d : op. cit. p. 253. 


child is not necessarily handicapped in his educational advancement 
because his early education is given in a small school. Hence; an 
attempt is made to improve the techniques of teaching in small 
schools in order to enable the rural child to reach the same stan- 
dards as are attained by an urban child. Separate and simplified 
courses of study for small rural schools, therefore, have not beeu 
issued in Australia. This is indeed a laudable and democratic ob- 
jective and even in India, it would be desirable to have the same 
curriculum content both for single and multi-teacher schools. 

But even if the content is the same, the internal organisation 
of the curriculum of a single-teacher school will have to be radical- 
ly different from that of a multi-teacher school. The very fact that 
devices like combination of grades, plural-class teaching, etc., have 
to be adopted in single-teacher schools, shows that the content of 
the curriculum will have to be recognised differently to suit them. 
It is rather a technical job to make this reorganisation successful. 
It will, therefore, have to be done by specially qualified personnel 
and any attempt to leave the matter to the teachers themselves 
will not bring in good results. In the U.S.A. and Australia, it is a 
common practice to issue handbooks for teachers of small rural 
schools, containing detailed instructions regarding the manner in 
which they can reorganise the general curriculum to meet their 
special needs. In these publications, no attempt is made to dictate 
specified methods of reorganisation. All the same, a wealth of 
reorganised material is placed at the teachers’ disposal and he is also 
allowed the freedom to invent, add or alter it according to his in- 
clinations and capacities. In India such handbooks are conspicuous 
by their absence, and one of the first tasks in the reconstruction of 
rural education will be to produce them in a thorough and practical 

The problem of the special methods of teaching required to 
meet the needs of single-teacher schools need not be discussed 
further although the foregoing account does not claim to be com- 
plete. In the first place, it does not refer to several problems {e.g., 
home-work, silent study, parent-teacher relationship, extra-curricu- 
lar activities, etc.) which a single-teacher has to face and in all of 
which he has to use techniques which are materially different from 
those adopted in multi-teacher schools. Moreover, even in respect 
of the few problems it deals with, the objective has been to indi- 
cate the principles of the methods that can be used advantageously 
rather than to deal with all methods in a comprehensive manner. 
But as this brochure is addressed to administrators and teacher- 
educators and not to the teachers of small rural schools, the fore- 
going discussions of some of the special methods evolved in the 
U.S.A. and Australia will serve our primary objective of indicating 
the nature of the pedagogic problems that, face the single-teacher 
school and the manner in which they can be tackled. 



The discussions in the two preceding chapters will give a 
broad idea of the complexity and importance of the administrative 
and pedagogic problems of the single-teacher school. If they are to 
be solved satisfactorily, it goes without saying that agencies capable 
of solving them have to be brought into play. The lead, of course, 
should come from the universities. They should organise experimen- 
tal single-teacher schools under competent supervision, try out 
different methods of teaching and organisation and publish their 
findings. The Central Institute of Education, on which rests the 
main responsibility of leading and coordinating the educational re- 
search in all parts of the country, should make a beginning in the 
matter by conducting one or more single-teacher schools in the sub- 
urban villages of Delhi. The training colleges conducted by Govern- 
ment should also follow suit and, wherever possible, organise ex- 
perimental single-teacher schools to work out specific plans or ideas. 
Each training school for primary teachers should, as suggested al- 
ready, conduct one or more single-teacher schools for practical pur- 

But that is not enough. A practice school is necessarily an 
average school and its work generally gets so overloaded with the 
‘practice’ of budding teachers that it is hardly ever possible to 
try new teachniques in it. An experimental school is an entirely 
different affair. It is to be brought into existence and conducted 
with the special object of trying out some specially designed experi- 
ment under conditions which are as fully controlled as possible. It 
may not be possible for every primary teacher-training institution 
to conduct an experimental single-teacher school. But it is certainly 
not too much to suggest that the staff of a few of them may be 
adequately strengthened to enable them to conduct such experi- 

Private enterprise also, as Shri Saiyidain has suggested, can play 
an important role in conducting experimental single-teacher schools 
and in evolving new techniques. But in the present circumstances, 
it would be risky to leave this vital problem to the uncertain course 
of private enterprise. We need a planned, extensive and a vigorous 
lead and that can come from direct State action alone. The Five- 
Year Plan proposes to be “selective” in its approach and to con- 
centrate, among others, on such “pilot projects” as will help in 
reorientating the educational system of the country. The 



single-teacher school which will ultimately serve the educational needs 
of about three lakhs of villages can certainly be regarded as impor- 
tant enough to fall within this restricted sphere ; and one has a 
right to feel that experimental single-teacher schools have a priority 
claim, not only on State funds but on Central subsidies for edu- 
cation as well. 

Experimental single-teacher schools will do all that is necessary 
to solve pedagogic problems. But the solution of the administrative 
problems will require action on the part of Education Department. 
Here, intensive surveys will have to be conducted and newer tech- 
niques and administrative procedures will have to be tried out. But 
these problems are much simpler on the whole and will be tackled 
satisfactorily and quickly if every State Education Department 
carries out one or two studies in the problem. 

Research and experiment of the type described above will 
automatically create a good deal of literature on the subject. This 
new literature will also be useful and realistic because it will arise 
from first-hand experience of local conditions and not be a trans- 
lation or adaptation of some foreign study conducted in an envi- 
ronment altogether different from purs. Such literate would 
naturally be in the regional language; and it should, therefore, be 
an important function of the Central Bureau of Education to pre- 
pare brief digests from it for inter-state use and even for inter- 
national purposes. When this literature becomes available, the 
teachers who are required to conduct the small rural schools will 
become more efficient and will, in their turn, be able to contribute 
to it. A virtuous circle will thus set in and the condition of the 
single-teacher schools will begin to improve rapidly. 

India is not only a land of villages, but a land of very small 
villages which are scattered sparsely over the countryside and which 
resist all attempts at amalgamation. The single-teacher school, there- 
fore, is going to remain with us as the only agency of spreading 
culture in more than half of our five lakhs of villages. A careful 
study of its problems, therefore, should have had a very high priority 
in our programme of educational reconstruction. 

But unfortunately, the single-teacher school which had its roots 
deep down in our cultural past and had maintained an unbroken 
tradition for some thousands of years, was completely ignored by 
our modern Education Departments for the first 65 years of their 
existence. When at last they awoke, like Rip Van Winkle from their 
long slumbers, they started a terrible crusade to eliminate these 
schools on the ground that they were inefficient and wasteful. King 
Log was suddenly replaced by a terrible King Stork, and the poor 
frogs of the small rural schools were almost driven to pray for 

the return of the old times when they could at least live in peace- 
ful neglect. But thanks to 'the advent of popular ministries and 
the attainment of independence, the crusade came to an end and 
the single-teacher school was given, hot only the right to live, but 
also the honourable status of an indispensable agency to carry the 
torch to those forsaken places which need them most 

Inspite of this political change, however, some of the old 
shackles remain. The tutelage of our officials is still unbroken so 
that some of them still feel unhappy at the ever-increasing num- 
bers of single-teacher schools; and even those who tolerate them, 
are generally disposed to regard them as “necessary evils”. Our 
educational research is definitely out of its cradle; but even today, 
it is so fully occupied with urban problems that it is not even pos- 
sible to indicate when it will walk out to the villages and stand face 
to face with the single-teacher schools. In the meanwhile, the 
poor solitary teacher of this school continues to live and work 
under great handicaps— poverty, poor general education, inadequate 
training (if received at all), unsatisfactory supervision, and utter 
lack of necessary books and materials, so that the “hungry sheep” — 
the few unfortunate youngsters entrusted to his amateurish, and 
often indifferent, care “look up and are not fed”. 

It is high time that vigorous attempts were made to end this 
sorry state of affairs. The first step would be to change the typical- 
ly urban mental attitude of our average administrator and teacher- 
educator and to convince them that the single-teacher school need 
not be a necessary evil. In fact, he should be made to realise that 
they are both a challenge and an opportunity, and that they can 
be made to develop into good educational institutions which would 
have several excellent features of modern education to their cre- 

The next step would be to study the research and experi- 
mental work done about the single-teacher schools in all parts 

of the world and especially in Australia, the U.S.A. and Sweden. 
This will provide several ideas to make a start. 

The third step would then be to pool our own experience by sur- 
veying the problem on an all-India basis. 

Finally, research and experimentation on the problem should 
be organised through universities, Education Departments and suit- 
able private agencies. This will generate a new life and create a new 
literature that will enable the single-teaches schools to come into 
their own, and thereby help to build up a new life in thousands of 
our small villages. 


The Use of Monitors in Victoria 

Victorian teachers make use of monitors to serve two main 
functions. They may act as work-lieutenants, whose duties are to 
look to the supplies of ink, paper, pencils and other materials, the 
decoration of the room, the supervision of the playground, and 
similar activities. Monitors of this kind are of course welcome. 

The second kind of monitor is the substitute teacher. Most 
Victorian head teachers make a distinction between the ‘class moni- 
tor’, who is left in charge of his own class to supervise and direct 
such drill work as oral reading, dictation and tables and the ‘teach- 
ing monitor’, who is taken away from his own group to direct 
the activities of pupils who are less advanced and in a lower 

Many returns stress the necessity of a wise selection of teach- 
ing monitors. They must have such qualities as will enable them to 
play effectively the teaching role. As well as superior knowledge 
or skill, they must have some of the sympathy, the vivacity, the 
power to interest and to command attention, and the ability to 
question and to deal with answers which characterise the successful 

The head teacher cannot, of course, expect to find in his school 
community a batch of natural or born assistant teachers. He must 
devote time and care to the special training of his monitors. In 
our returns from Victorian teachers, we encountered frequently such 
statements as the following : 

‘Monitors are of little assistance if they are not trained.’ 

‘Monitors are instructed before hand as to what is to be done 
and how it is to be done.’ 

So the head teacher gives model lessons which the monitors 
attend, armed with pencil and note-book. He shows them what 
faults to look for in reading, how to give a dictation lesson, how 
to diagnose errors in elementary arithmetic. He gets his monitors 
to give special lessons which are criticised by other monitors. Be- 
fore school and at recess times, the monitors come to him for final 
instructions and guidance. He holds a weekly conference, a staff- 
meeting, at which he outlines the monitorial duties for the nett 
week, and gives necessary help. He does not call upon monitors to 


serve unexpectedly, but carefully prepares a roster of duties which 
is attached to the time-table, so that each substitute teacher knows, 
well beforehand, what he has to do, and for what he must pre- 

In the actual work of the classroom monitors are used, as noted, 
for two main purposes. They may direct drill work in their own 
class, or they may take charge of pupils lower in the school. It is 
particularly for the latter purpose that head teachers find their ser- 
vices invaluable. The very young pupils in the two lowest classes 
do have a fairly constant need of direction and supervision. In 
many Victorian schools, indeed, grades I and II, unless they are 
receiving a lesson from the head teacher, appear always to be in the 
charge of a monitor. 

The scope of the work which is entrusted to monitors may 
best be indicated by quoting from the returns from two schools. 
In one of these schools, the head teacher allots to monitors the 
following tasks : 

(a) Number work in junior grades. 

(b) Oral reading throughout the school. 

(c) Dictation and spelling throughout the school. 

(d) The hearing of poetry. 

(e) Stories in junior grades. 

(f) Writing in grades I and II. 

(g) Occupation work in grades I and II. 

(h) Revision work in history and geography, grades III to 

The second return mentions the activities listed below : 

Grades I and II : All subjects. 

Grades III and IV : Spelling tables, reading poetry, drawing. 

Grades V to VIII : Reading, dictation, poetry, revision work 
in social studies. 

It is clear that if teachers can safely entrust to monitors all 
the activities listed above, the task of instructing eight classes be- 
comes much easier. 

We have noted that the wise head teacher selects his monitors 
carefully, gives them a thorough training, and plans ahead the 
tasks which they are asked to perform. Further than this, he lends 
to them all the moral support which they may need. Very fre- 
quently he sees their lessons well started before he moves away to 
take his own lesson. He never fails to visit them before the end of 
the period, in order to test their work and to clinch important 


points. He keeps his eye on the whole school, and his finger on 
the pulse of every group. The consequence is that both the children 
being taught and the monitor doing the teaching, feel that the 
head teacher is quietly noting all that is being done, and that due 
regard will be had both to good and bad work. As one teacher 
writes of these assistants, ‘The head teacher must supervise their 
work while teaching in another department, and no monitor’s work 
should remain unchecked at the close of the period. In no way must 
be monitors’ division be allowed to feel that the teacher is not in 

(Taken from The Rural Schools in Australia, pp. 205-07.) 


Time-table for Small Schools in Rural Areas 

The time-table which follows presents some very interesting 
special features. The teacher has shown the way his teaching forces 
are organised during the day. S indicates a silent study lesson, from 
textbooks or prepared assignments, or expression work such as writ- 
ten composition. T indicates a lesson which the teacher directs in 
person. It is clear that for some of these lessons the teacher spends 
but a portion of the lesson period with one class, devoting the 
remainder to class work elsewhere or to general supervision. He 
plans to open up new work, to set exercises, and then perhaps to re- 
turn for a final summing-up of the lesson. O indicates oral work 
in which the children are guided either by leaders within the class 
group, monitors, or the teacher. M indicates the presence of a moni- 
tor as the directing agent. It will be noted that the monitor is pre- 
sent for drill, revision, or follow-up work, in short, in those lessons 
where a great amount of adjustment of methods, of the giving of 
new impressions, is not required. We should like to stress this im- 
portant point, namely, that in no period is the teacher so pre-occu 
pied with one class that the general oversight of his school is neg- 
lected. The teacher in charge of a rural school has to acquire skill 
in directing the work of many groups. He must note the flagging 
of interest, the varying rates of study, and the reactions of indivi- 
dual pupil$ to the different school occupations. 

The time-table under discussion shows a judicious grouping of 
lessons. Subjects requiring intensive drill methods come fairly early 
in the morning, after the opening exercises whose purpose is to 
provide a pleasant social beginning to the day’s work. The motivat- 
ing value of such exercises is often not fully realised. Rightly used, 
they contribute in no small way to the emotional setting for a 
good day’s work. 

Lessons are varied in sequence— a good point in sustaining the 
interest of children. Lesson periods are, in the main, of short dura- 
tion. This is a wise arrangement in a small school. From our study 
of small schools in session we have come to the conclusion that 
none but very competent teachers can make much out of lengthy 
lesson intervals. Where a time-table is based on twenty and forty- 
minutes periods, the teacher usually sub-divides the major period, 
even when this division is not shown on the time-table. The day 
ends with lessons in which the main responses of the pupils are 
m the form of appreciations or physical activities. 

Song, Morning Talk, Nature Study 






























































M t ts 









































Small School, Rural - District, Victoria 
ie-5# I n*» I \ 

Social S Dictation M 

Studies T Dictation M 

Writing T Geo. T 

Writing M Wd. Bid. M 

Health T Read T ! 

20 . ! 
Spelling 10 Reading S j 

Drawing T (Oral) O 

Comp. M 

Drawing M (Written) 

Social S Poetry T 

Poetry T 

Science T Science T ! 

Writing M Drawing T 

Writing M Drawing T I 

Social T Literature S 


Read. T 

Geog. S Comp. T 


Wd. Bldg. T Comp. M 

) 1*50 



1 2*35 



Grammar T 

Drawing T 

Comp. T 

Grammar S 

Drawing T 

Comp. T 

Arith. S 

Wd. Bldg. S 


Diet. M 



Trans. M 

Wk. M 

Story M 


Grammar S 

Drawing T 

Social T 

Grammar T 

Drawing T 

Studies S 

Music T 

Arith. S 

Spelling 10 




Spelling S 

Writing M 

Spelling 10 
Health M 

Plays. M 

Wd. Bid. T 

Social S 

Diet. M 

Grouping S 

Studies T 

Diet. M 

Games T 

Poetry T 

Diet. M 

Drawing T 

Poetry M i 

Transl. M 

Drawing T 

Grammar S 

Comp. S 

Drawing T 

Litt. S 

Grammar T 

Comp. S 

Drawing T 


Arith. S 

Wd. Bldg. S 




Comp. s 



Numb. M 

Wd. Bldg. T 




Comp. M 




book M 

Writing T 

Hand Wk. 


Writing T 
Poetry S 

Hand Wk. 


Hand Wk. 

Wk. T 


Wk. T 




Poetry S 


Hand Wk. 

Wk. M 



Wk. M 


(Taken from the Rural School in Australia, pp. 296-19 


1. Caswell , Hollis . — Program Making in Small Elementary 
Schools, 1930. 

2. Cole , Percival R. t (Editor). — The Rural School in Australia, 
(Australian Council for Educational Research), 1937. 

3. Covert, Timon . — Educational Achievements of the One- 
teacher and Larger Rural Schools (U.S. Bureau of Education Bul- 
letin, No. 15), 1928. 

4. Dunn, Fannie W. and Everett , Marcia . — Four Years in a 
Country School (Teachers’ College, Columbia), 1926. 

5. Hoffman , U. J . — A Programme of Study and Instruction in 
One-teacher Schools, 1926. 

6. Lathrop Edith A. — -The Organisation of the One-teacher 
School (U.S. Office of Education), 1923. 

7. Lowth , Frank , J . — Everyday Problems of the Country Tea- 
cher (Macmillan & Co.), 1936. 

8. Me. Guffey, Verne . — Differences in the Activities of Teach- 
ers in Rural One-teacher Schools and of Grade Teachers in Cities 
(Teachers’ College, Columbia), 1929. 

9. National Education Association . — Newer Types of Educa- 
tion in Small Rural Schools, 1938. 

10. Reinoehl , C. M. — Analytical Survey of State Courses of 
Study for Rural Elementarv Srhnnic ms Ttnr 0 ^ u 0 f Education Bul- 
letin, No 

11 . * 
sity of C 




& Co., N 

School (The Univer- 
tpil Achievement in 

Schools (Macmillan